It is old and successful saying that there is a hand of a women behind every successful man. It is true in Odisha. The tribal women are working hard to produce the organic. The average income from Rs.19,618 has increased to Rs.47,256 showing an increase of 140 percent. It was as per the project Strengthening Forest and Forest Based Livelihood. Organic Manure was prepared at home and was used.
Governments claim credit for doubling farmers’ income through policy interventions and extending necessary support, tribal women in Odisha’s poverty-stricken Koraput district have increased their earnings three-fold (almost 140 percent) in the past four years on their own.
This achievement was possible after women from 4,000 households, inspired by USAID and Bhubaneswar-based Centre for Youth and Social Development (CYSD) organized themselves into 261 women producers’ groups (WPGs) and started selling processed forest and agriculture products under the brand “Banashree”. It is now a popular brand in Odisha. The products sold under Banashree are completely organic and hence they are in great demand.
“We never use chemical fertilizers and pesticide because they are not only costly, but harmful. We prepare organic manure at home and use them. It gives high yields,” says Hari Miniaka, a woman producer.
It all started in 2014 with the implementation of a project called “Strengthening Forest and Forest Based Livelihood”. The project focused on mapping agriculture and non-timber forest products (NTFPs) in 250 villages spread over five blocks of Maoist-hit Koraput district — Laxmipur, Narayanpatna, Bandhugaon, Baipariguda and Kundra. After value addition, the products were sold in the market bypassing the local traders.
The baseline study conducted in 2014 before the inception of the project showed that the average annual income of a tribal family was Rs.19,618, which in 2017 went to Rs.47,256, an increase of 140.88 percent.
The tribal women producers companies, according to CYSD mentor and co-founder Jagadananand, play the role of local traders to the hilt by which the ultimate benefit goes to the tribal women.
The agriculture, horticulture and NTFPs that the tribal women process and sell include minor millets such as suan, mandia and kangu; turmeric, mango jelly, grafted mango, tamarind, deseeded tamarind, hill grass, piped hill-brooms, plastic-handle broom-sticks, steel-handle broomsticks and lemon grass.
“Earlier, before forming the women groups, we used to barter the hill grass with local traders for a meagre quantity of dry fish, dry chillies, onions and the like. They would not pay us any money. Now, a hill-broom (also known as hill-broomstick) made by us fetches between Rs.50 and Rs.60,” said Tilei Wadeka of Pandakapadar village.
“With the additional income earned through trade and collective marketing, I can send my child to school and repair the roof of my house,” says Rupai Wadeka of Laxmipur.
Laxmi Khila of Dadhipada under Doraguda panchayat in Baipariguda block said the community farming practices addressing food requirements. “Previously, the locals faced food crisis of sorts for many years. Now, we have enough on our plate to consume and need not starve,” said Ms Khila.