Healthy living along with sustainable livelihoods is key to changing the destiny of many poor and marginalised women in the remotest parts of our country. This builds their resilience to meet life’s challenges head on and provides a strong foundation to take care of themselves, their family and the community.

In the Gosaiganj cluster of Lucknow district in Uttar Pradesh in a village called Husainabad, a group of women have undertaken vermicompost production with twin objectives: one to improve their and their family’s health by eating organic vegetables and staples, and secondly to earn an income which is theirs to spend on what they feel is important, like their children’s education.

We grow wheat, potatoes, mint, watermelon, cucumber and tomatoes in our field. And we do not buy fertiliser from the market, we create our own organic fertiliser and insecticide, thanks to the comprehensive training provided by CARE India” said Poonam, one of the 13 members of the local SHG.

In 2021, CARE India with the support of MARS provided financial and technical support to women of this village and built vermicompost pits for them. Using cow dung, vegetable refuse, neem leaves, water hyacinth and earthworms, the pits began to provide rich manure for the fields which were cheaper to produce and safer to use along with Vermiwash- the by-product which is a very effective organic insecticide. By and by, the effects of using organic manure and Vermipost were evident to the women. The produce was larger, tastier, without any chemical insecticide and the women noticed that they were enjoying better health.

Sunaina another SHG member conveyed “Besides all the other benefits, we started to save money by not having to buy fertiliser and insecticide from the market. Our produce also earned a better price in the market

As a next step, CARE India guided the SHG members to also look at Vermipost product as an income stream. There is a demand for organic fertiliser from other farmers, nurseries, seed shops and others. The excess vermicompost that was not used in the field can be sold in the market for Rs 5-6 per kg and a cooperative sale of all the 13 members can easily bring in a revenue of Rs 25000- 30000. Also, the earthworms which are used in Vermicompost multiply rapidly and the excess production fetches a price of Rs 1200 a kg and many SHG members have benefitted from this additional income.

Going forward we will make packets of 1-2 kgs, stamp them with our brand logo- Greenworld Vermicompost – which CARE helped us create- and sell them in retail. Alongside we will also sell earthworms” shared Phoolmati. Meanwhile, Usha and Poonam have already sold loose earthworms worth Rs 2800 to other village folks.

Besides building market linkages for the SHG members, CARE trained the women in time management, negotiation and communication. Armed with a business plan, visiting cards and brand logo the women are ready to take vermicompost production to the next level.

As Sunaina proudly states “This venture is changing our lives- one vermicompost pit at a time. We have more respect within the household and the community. The extra earnings will go primarily towards educating our children and savings for old age

About the Programme: Mint farmers in India produce 80% of the world’s supply of mint and rely on the crop to provide household liquidity. In Uttar Pradesh, women mint farmers engaged in subsistence farming face a variety of socio-economic challenges, such as gender inequality, food insecurity, and financial illiteracy. In addition, these women mint farmers have also been affected significantly due to COVID-19. MARS has partnered with CARE India with the Shubh Mint project to support 4,755 women to overcome these challenges which improves their overall quality of life.

Posted by: Vandana Mishra

Location: Gosaiganj block, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh

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