We work in small villages in district Wardha, near Nagpur- Vidarbha region. This area is infamous for the having one of highest rate of suicide among the famers. The dam on Wardha river brought huge area under irrigation. But at the same time, the backwaters caused people living more than 20 villages move and leave their home, their soil and their livelihood. There are more than 250 affected families which are affected. The government has provided alternate means of housing in the nearby area but the not an alternate means of livelihood
WHAT we do-
My family has been affected by the backwaters of the dam. We have sustained ourselves through the small piece of land allocated to us. However, not everyone of the 250+ displaced families is fortunate enough. Moreover, being dependent of farming alone has caused disaster in the past. This is evident from the high rate of suicide in the farmers in Vidarbha. Hence, we, the children of families affected by the dam are creating alternate means of livelihood for us as well as other families in the region. There are 3 major lines projects we plan to undertake-
• Micro scale industry- Food processing units
• Husbandry- breading sheep, goat, cattle, hen and bees
• Skill development- short duration workshops for working in the nearby industry
We provide the young people and the ladies training to start the livelihood projects. We help them gather the resources, connect to the markets and in some cases, get fair price for their products.
The initiative to help the locals get back on their feet have been ongoing for 2 years. However, the efforts got a real boost when the Nehru Yuva Kendra extended their support and guidance to our efforts in mid-2017. Their experienced leadership helped us streamline the efforts.
Typical costs required for each of the lines are projects are as below-
- Food processing unit- fruit driers/ dehydrators working on solar power and minimal power are available for as low as Rs. 5000, depending upon the capacity. One small drier of 5 kg capacity is sufficient to get the family started with dehydrating local farm products like orange, tomato, vegetables, tamarind, and so on. The products so dried get sold to the nearby factories as a raw material and to Nagpur markets as storable ready to eat kitchen products. Breakeven us generally achieved within few months, depending upon seasonal produce.
- Breeding- this requires higher initial investment for purchasing the animals. Goats start from Rs. 5000, chicken start from Rs. 500 while cows start from Rs. 50000 onwards. Milk is collected and sold to local dairy on a long term contract basis. Meat is sold to butchers without a long term contract. The breakeven is now achieved soon and may take up from 1- 5 years, depending upon the scale of the enterprise. We generally encourage to undertake this project as a side business in addition to faming or food processing etc. as the cash flows are not very stable
- Skill development- we have started working with Nehru Yuva Kendra to identify institutes who can impart the skill development workshops for basic skills like- carpentry, tailoring, welding and metal working, painting, etc. In general, our policy is to bear 50% of cost associated with the training and rest 50% is bared by the family undergoing the training. The crucial part is helping the family setup the business after the training is given. The machines and initial cost of raw materials are also shared 50-50 between the family and us. In some cases, the family member undergoing the training is able to find a job in local factories. However, the employment opportunity is not as easily available. For small-scale business, the breakeven is reached within 4-8 months.
So far, we have created a sustainable livelihood opportunity for 30 families. Majority of the funds have come from our own pockets and some from Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship.
HOW you can help-
Since the scale of individual projects to help each of families is very small, it doesn’t take much financial help to kick-start the project. However, even amounts as little as Rs. 10,000 are scarce. The families cannot depend on the government for for help because of multiple such as including bureaucracy and ignorance.