These quake-hit women in Maharashtra are setting new entrepreneurship goals
Women in Maharashtra's Latur and Osmanabad districts, which were hit by an earthquake 25 years ago, refused to be defeated by the catastrophe and took it as challenge to restore their houses and in turn became entrepreneurs. A ravaging earthquake had hit Latur and Osmanabad on September 30, 1993, killing nearly 10,000 people and causing severe damage in nearly 52 villages of the districts.
Around 1 lakh women set up SHGs; got themselves trained
Many houses and other properties were reduced to rubble in some villages, rendering a large number of people homeless. Over the years, nearly 1L women set up self-help groups (SHGs) and trained in entrepreneurship, marketing, and finance of agricultural and non-agricultural small-scale businesses. Besides, around 41,000 women were trained by the NGO Swayam Shikshan Prayog (SSP) to take up organic-farming on their family's lands.
Women farmers have earned Rs. 516cr over last few years
"The women farmers have earned a revenue of Rs. 516 crore over the last few years as the cost of production of food crops is less than cash crops like sugarcane," SSP head, Prema Gopalan, said.
GR for appointing Sanvad Sahayaks was issued in 1994
After one year of the earthquake, a Government Resolution was issued for appointing 'Sanvad Sahayaks', or the community resource person, to help in the reconstruction of the damaged houses, Gopalan said. The SSP trained the women to be Sanvad Sahayaks and to monitor the reconstruction and repairs of houses and interact with engineers and contractors on designs of these houses.
It wasn't easy to involve women in such works: SSP
Involving women in these works was not an easy task as they wouldn't come out of their kitchens when the SSP volunteers went around the villages. "They took the lead when they realized that the reconstruction of houses was not to their liking and the money given to beneficiaries was misused by men in the families," Godavari, an SSP worker, said.
Women now in charge of food, water, animal security
Women are now in charge of food, water, and animal security, which has resulted in improved health and nutrition of these families, Gopalan noted. An additional income of Rs. 80,000 to Rs. 1 lakh per annum is being generated in the families where women have taken up organic farming. They grow millets, dal, pulses and oil seeds, among other things, she said.
Women farmers have been expanding their activities
Archana Bhosale, a farmer from Tuljapur village in Osmanabad, said she started with the organic farming of food-crops and pulses and is now one of the directors of a company, a consortium of SHGs in the district, which handles production of these crops, their processing and sale. Another farmer from Tuljapur, Vaishali Ghuge, said apart from owning 2-acre of farmland, she is into vermicomposting.
Women Sanvad Sahayaks helped people in Tamil Nadu after tsunami
Hanumant Bhalerao, manager of the Bank of India in Solapur district, says in 2017-18 his branch sanctioned Mudra loan to 101 individuals, including 28 women and 45 SHGs. Some women who worked as Sanvad Sahayaks also traveled to Tamil Nadu to assist in the rehabilitation work after a tsunami in 2004 and also Bhuj in Gujarat which was ravaged by an earthquake in 2001.