A Dying Village

Kandai Gaon, Uttarakhand

Abandoned houses
Decaying vegetation
Barren streets
Eerie silence
That’s Kandai

It’s sad, but true. Kandai is one of the 1300 villages in Uttarakhand that have become proverbial ghost villages. No roads lead you here. No milestones exist anywhere near this village. Yet, the houses, the hillocks, the fields, and the vegetation of this village are as real as in any prosperous town in India.

Vishal and his team visited this ghost village and spent precious time with Ranvir Singh Bisht, one of the 6 people who live in the village. You read that right. In the past 10 years, almost every family in the village has left it and moved to towns closer to mainstream civilization.

Why?

Why not, we say. There’s hardly any sustainable vista of employment anywhere near the village. Local agriculture, once the mainstay of the village, has fallen to pieces. Because the farmer folk never had access to technical knowledge and remained disconnected from the national agro-economy, their decline was inevitable.

The big question – can this village, whose plight is common to hundreds of other villages in Uttarakhand, be salvaged? We, at Hemp Foundation, believe the answer is – YES.

Hemp Foundation is a social enterprise that aims at reintegrating the people of rural Uttarakhand to their home villages by giving them a sustainable means of employment. While others look at Kandai as an abandoned village, we see it as a village that needs support to burst back to life.

Our volunteers and full-time workers will connect with the people who’ve remained in Kandai, as well as those who’ve left. We will explain to them how hemp farming (now legalized by Uttarakhand government), can be their big opportunity to resume agriculture in their fields.

We’re committed to empowering them with the economic and technical support they need to grow organic hemp in their fields. Plus, we will then train individuals in skills such as weaving, cutting, wrapping, stitching, etc. and lay the foundation for a thriving cottage industry in the village.

It’s going to be a challenging and exciting journey, something that we look forward to. We will begin with one piece of farmland in the village and make it pliable. This model farm will them be the shining light for hundreds of hectares of abandoned farms in the village. Slowly but surely Kandai will rise from its ashes and become the model village for Uttarakhand – that’s Hemp Foundation’s goal.