Thursday, 1 May 2014

They only want livlihoods.

In our village, as in many villages, agriculture has almost stopped with failing rains (climate change) and groundwater depletion (a highly inappropriate borewell technology was introduced there two decades ago).

People survived by grazing a cow or two, till even fodder became an issue. Before borewells came in,  the soil used to retain a certain moisture even in low rainfall years. After borewells, and the overextraction, poor rains mean complete dryness of soil, and trees die and cows have no grass.

Value addition based on their own agricultural produce and skills is most  viable. Amla powder was being sold for a few years in organic shops and in the ayurvedic clinic, but then the forest department tightened controls, and people could not collect the amla they used to. Tamarind was similarly supplied to the organic shops, but in drought the tamarind also did not yield. We set up  bee keeping, but the bees are barely surviving the drought. 

Pickles were getting streamlined, and then every item for the pickle had to be bought from outside due to drought, and the input costs rose. But we have continued that and the bottleneck is our marketing skills. They suggested learning tailoring, when we asked the women for possibilities. 

2017 ... many things have fallen in place. 

Word got around about the pickles, and now friends in Chennai and Bangalore act as nodal points, and Roopa directly sends them the pickles, and they distribute further. Roopa maintains perfect quality, and is the main breadwinner at home now.

Eight women have acquired machines and learnt stitching and screen printing, and they are getting orders for cloth bags, printed, appliques of embroidered. That has sustained those families through drought. More women wish to join.


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