APATANIS: THE MONSOON PEOPLE A photo exhibition

September 23, 2016

Open till Friday, September 23, 2016

Venue: The Foyer, India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road, New Delhi

New Delhi, September 22, 2016: The Apatanis represent a tribal group numbering approximately 60,000 in the Apatani plateau in Arunachal Pradesh. Natives of the Ziro Valley in the Lower Subansiri district, the Apatanis are known for their traditional cultivation practices and social forestry – done in a large measure by managing rainwater adroitly and sustainably. A photo exhibition has now brought some glimpses of their lifestyle to the people in Delhi-NCR.

Organised by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) and Down To Earth magazine, the exhibition is one of the many initiatives and events that the environment-development fortnightly has put together to celebrate its 25 years of existence. 

The Apatanis have perfected the science and craft of agriculture without using machines, pesticides or animals. They channel the rainwater in their streams and rivulets into their fields. The run-off, laden with nutrients from biomass-covered hills nourishes the soil in the valley. Recycled waste from piggeries provides extra manure. No additional inputs are used. Cooperative, communal effort is their way of life.

Says Richard Mahapatra, managing editor of Down To Earth: “The result is an energy-efficient method of farming-cum-pisciculture. According to one estimate, the energy output of the Apatanis’ agro-ecosystem in terms of food is 60-80 joules per joule of input. Even the Green Revolution pales in comparison. This energy input-output ratio is in much more efficient than other traditional mountain systems in the region.”

Their lifestyle is in tune with their surroundings. The bamboo and pine forests that they have managed for generations provide for all their construction material and fuel wood. It bears mentioning however, that modernisation has begun making inroads in the form of tin roofs and cement walls. To ensure the preservation of their traditional systems, they have demarcated their forests as private, clan, common and sacred. They are particular about when and where to sow seeds and when to cut trees. Apart from rice, they also raise fish in their paddy fields, which fulfils their protein requirement. In addition, anything edible in their surroundings is food for them – from bamboo shoots to insects. The Apatanis have maintained their traditions by oral recounting of their legendary and mythical beginnings.


You can view the exhibition at New Delhi’s India Habitat Centre. Prints of the photographs are available on sale as well.

For further details, contact: Hemanth Subramanian, CSE Media Resource Centre, hemanth@cseindia.org / 9836748585