The Surguja Region, made up of three of Chhattisgarh’s northern districts, is called “The Rice Bowl” of the area. Here villagers grow several varieties of rice, or “paddy” as it is called in India, including Basmati rice, now becoming popular in the West. They also grow wheat and other grains.
Most of this region’s 3.7 million inhabitants belong to tribal groups. Two of the region’s tribes, the Pando and Korwa, live deep in its forests, making it difficult for outsiders to reach them. Almost two-thirds of the region’s population cannot read or write, and they are open to literacy programs.
This village woman will spend hours of backbreaking labor in the hot Indian sun to bring in the wheat harvest. With no tools or animals to help, the people do all of their farming by hand.
A Chhattisgarh woodcutter/shepherd pauses from his labors in the midday heat. Forests cover almost half of the state, so woodcutters are valued for their skill.
The people of Chhattisgarh are known for their ability to craft useful and decorative items from straw and bamboo. This woman shows her skill at weaving a straw mat.