NEW YORK, New York — Inaccessibility to food is one of the biggest issues people in poverty face all over the world. Though considered a basic human right, food has been commodified and has become less accessible to those who lack certain privileges in life. In Bangladesh, more than 20% of the population lives below the poverty line. Since Bangladesh faces this high rate of poverty, many face food insecurities as well. The Bangladesh Resource Center For Indigenous Knowledge (BARCIK) is promoting food justice by using important principles to connect Bangladesh to its traditional pre-colonial cultural roots. It hopes to ultimately eradicate poverty and food insecurity.
What Is Indigenization?
Indigenization is an important tool in the process of decolonization. Bangladesh was under the British Raj along with India up until 1947. The effects of this colonial period still reign on as the country aims to eradicate poverty. The Centre for Teaching and Learning highlights the important connection between Indigenization and Decolonization by arguing, “If decolonization is the removal or undoing of colonial elements, then Indigenization could be seen as the addition or redoing of Indigenous elements.” This essentially means a reconnection to indigenous ways of being. That is exactly what BARCIK strives for, particularly in relation to food justice.
Food Injustice and Poverty In Bangladesh
When examining food accessibility in Bangladesh, it is easy to see why BARCIK aims to attack poverty specifically through the food system. According to USAID, food insecurity affects around 25% of the population in Bangladesh. Stunting, “a common measure of chronic malnutrition,” affects 36% of children younger than five. This reveals the severe lack of food accessibility in the nation. The numbers also closely mirror the poverty rate, illuminating how food injustice and poverty go hand in hand.
Using One To Fight The Other
With the understanding of Bangladesh’s poverty and food insecurity, BARCIK strives for Indigenization as a tool to eliminate the lasting effects of colonialism to decolonize, eradicate poverty and cultivate food security for all Bangladeshis. Its website highlights the mission of the non-profit, stating that BARCIK is actively “exploring and incorporating indigenous knowledge and local practices into contemporary development programmes.”
Additionally to these practices, it also conducts research initiatives in the fields of “Anthropology, Sociology, Geography, Agriculture, Environmental Science, Botany, History, Management and Mass Communication & Journalism.” With this research, the organization implements and encourages indigenous Bangladeshi communities to grow food and to farm, based on an understanding of the land’s biodiversity. BARCIK conducts “various research initiatives and studies involving issues of agro-biodiversity, livelihood changes and access to natural resources.”
By conducting research and practicing Indigenization, BARCIK plays an incredibly important role in Bangladesh’s fight against poverty and food injustice. The organization helps to illuminate the importance of indigenization in the fight for decolonization as the effects of colonialism reign on. Additionally, using indigenous knowledge to cultivate a just food system so that all have access to basic human rights is imperative. BARCIK’s approach and impact is something that people around the world can learn from, particularly in the global fight against poverty and food insecurity.
– Sebastian Fell