Its early morning and I am on my way to, village Dodadimaha in Kalahandi district of Odisha, to our project initiative- the PATHWAYS, one of CARE India’s Adivashi Program intervention1. On the way, one is greeted by a kaleidoscope of beautiful images – lush forest, hillocks, valleys and fields- images that belie the reality of the region- one marred by chronic food insecurity, widespread poverty and infamous for being the hunger spot of India. As me and my team reached the village, we are received by vibrant smiles, enlightening the environment with a leash of enthusiasm and energy. Out of my very captivating and eventful day I would like to share few key experiences, which I feel was very motivating, giving me in person a conviction that CARE India through its work is treading the rightful path in the desired direction of empowerment.

My first experience was the power of a simple intervention.

In Dodadimaha, I meet a grandmother who has been growing vegetables behind her cow shed- cum –kitchen from a long time. Despite her hard work, the produce was barely enough to meet the needs of her family. Realizing the potential of small vegetable plots in improving the livelihood conditions of people, the PATHWAYS project introduced a simple yet effective technology of making a rich organic liquid fertilizer to increase the agricultural yield. The technology involved is conducive to local environment and requires a onetime of investment of INR 200/ – in the form of bucket, cow-dung, straw, and earthworm. The grandmother was one of the first persons in the village to adopt the technology introduced by PATHWAYS. The adoption of new technique had led to higher produce of variety of vegetable. In the current season, not only she been able to meet the needs of her family but also had a surplus to sell in the market. From the mere expenditure of INR 200/- she has been able to earn INR 1,100 and the season is not over yet… Encouraged by her success, a number of her neighbors have started to use the innovation. I was extremely delighted to see this transformation and realise how a small intervention became an empowering solution for a grandmother. Filled with gratitude to all our supporters as my day passed I was again captivated with the power of team work.

In Dodadimaha village, we also met a Self-Help Group (SHG) comprising women, incubated by the PATHWAYS initiative. The SHG is engaged in selling “Mohua Flower”, “Turmeric” and other small scale agricultural produce. Before the initiative, women were selling their produces individually to the traders, which meant not only their ability to bargain for a better price was negligible but also that they were earning minimum profit. In order to ensure that the women in the SHG get best possible price for their produce, The PATHWAYS team along with local partners encourages and helps women to aggregate and sell their produce collectively. The team also helps them to effectively bargain with “traders” by effectively using market information and actively connecting these women with the market. This year, by pooling and marketing their produce collectively, the SHG has sold “Mohua Flower” at INR 24 per kilo as opposed to INR 10-13 per kilo last year, when they sold it individually. There are significant lessons here for us, it shows us team work is much more tangible and effective, for the individuals as well as the team. We have many things to learn from these tribal rural women!

By Dr. Musa

1. The PATHWAYS initiative seeks to facilitate empowerment of poor women farmers by increasing their opportunities while addressing their social, economic and environmental constraints in agriculture by developing multiple pathways towards secured and resilient livelihoods for some the most ethnically and socially marginalized groups in India.

Posted By : CARE Team