Vijay Jodha on “The Weeping Apple Tree”.Jodha’s film portrays how climate change is affecting our lives
If you think climate change is something happening in the distant West or East then this film is for you. If you think it is affecting only the pollution-prone Indian metros then better revisit your opinion after watching “The Weeping Apple Tree”.
Produced under the UK Environment Film Fellowship, the film was showcased at the India Habitat Centre the other day. On the face of it, it is a simple tale of the last apple tree in the Hurla village of Himachal Pradesh but through this wilting tree director Vijay Jodha has addressed multiple concerns that the country is facing because of the climate change. “Apple cultivation requires certain amount of snowfall. Over the last few years due lack of snowfall the apple growing belt is shifting in the Himalayan region. The farmers in the lower reaches have moved to other fruits like plums and in the higher reaches farmers are clearing the natural alpine forests to do apple farming.” Jodha says it is a wake up call for people who think that climate change affects only the polluted metros.
“Here a pristine region is getting affected. It has far reaching impact. The alpine belt is getting denuded, there are more and more instances of flash floods and as the apple cultivation is reaching up to Spiti there are cultural changes. Once a cold desert, today here people have more money, hence more markets and it has its impact on nature. It is like NCR bursting at its seams making the environment topsy-turvy. What will they do once they reach the top of the mountain,” asks Jodha.
With Dr. Tej Pratap as the scientific advisor, Jodha has taken help of scientists from Centre for Geo-Informatics Research & Training, Indian Agriculture Research Institute, Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology, International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, International Competence Centre for Organic Agriculture and Y.S. Parmar University of Horticulture & Forestry to prove his point.
The film is not just a research piece. It brings out the poignancy of the situation when a farmer longing for his apple trees laments, “There is not a drop of rain in our area but we face flash floods.” Jodha says it explains how climate change knows no national boundaries. If a lake in Tibet overflows, it has its impact on Himachal Pradesh and even in plains.”
As for solutions, the film talks about how plants have certain molecules, which help them in handling environment change. If they could be identified, things can change for better. “Then there is talk about checking the shrinking bio mass. The problem of global warming centres on carbon. And certain plants can fix carbon more than other through photosynthesis by turning carbon dioxide into oxygen,” says Jodha. He says the scientists have suggested certain species of bamboo for the region as it grows fast and helps in carbon sequestration. “It helps in stabilising the fragile soil and is ready for harvest in two-three years. So it is economically viable for farmers.”