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Boost Women's Livelihood Collectives for Equality

by Foundation for Social Transformation - enabling north east india
Boost Women's Livelihood Collectives for Equality
Boost Women's Livelihood Collectives for Equality
Boost Women's Livelihood Collectives for Equality
Boost Women's Livelihood Collectives for Equality
Boost Women's Livelihood Collectives for Equality
Boost Women's Livelihood Collectives for Equality
Boost Women's Livelihood Collectives for Equality
Boost Women's Livelihood Collectives for Equality
Boost Women's Livelihood Collectives for Equality
Boost Women's Livelihood Collectives for Equality
Boost Women's Livelihood Collectives for Equality
Boost Women's Livelihood Collectives for Equality
Boost Women's Livelihood Collectives for Equality
Boost Women's Livelihood Collectives for Equality
Boost Women's Livelihood Collectives for Equality
Boost Women's Livelihood Collectives for Equality
Boost Women's Livelihood Collectives for Equality
Boost Women's Livelihood Collectives for Equality

In the month of January, the production and sale of mushroom from all the villages continued and the total production for the season from November to February was arrived at 1282kgs and total amount received by the women mushroom growers from the season arrived at 141,640 INR. Taking into consideration the frequent financial transactions as well as the need to maintain proper accounts, a capacity building workshop for the community organizations were planned and executed in the month of February in association with the Finance Team of FST. Our women collective representatives also participated in a regional North-East Trade Facilitation Fair wherein they were exposed to various innovations and practices prevalent in the states in terms of sustainable livelihood practices.

Also, in the month of February, our community organizations began planning for the post mushroom cultivations season. They decided to engage in cultivation of Papaya, Lemon and Black pepper which can be seen as an alternate means of livelihood with their existing practice of paddy and vegetable cultivation during the mushroom off-season. However due to the pandemic of COVID 19 and its related lockdown across the country, we couldn’t carry on with the planned programs.

We plan to carry on with our activities once there are relaxations in lockdown and with due consideration of safety measures of social distancing and sanitization practices.

During this period of lockdown, understanding the plight of the daily wage labourers as well as the vulnerable families, FST engaged in relief measures in association with the community mobilizers and grassroot organization in the project villages. We were able to reach out to 120 families from the 5 villages of Baksa block with essential items such as rice, potatoes, pulses, vegetable oil, salt and hygiene materials such as soap, washing powder and disinfectant.

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In the last two months, the women collectives started preparation of the cylinders. On receiving the spawns they ordered, they started with the production process. They had to wait for some more weeks to receive the spawn, since it was festival time in the month of October. Unlike previous year, this year there was no considerable damage and the mushroom grew productively. The weather was favourable and the mushrooms sprouted well. The following are the highlights of production.

  • The total cylinders made by the women collectives in all the villages amounted to 1640 nos.
  • The total production is 1118 kilograms and counting
  • The total income generated amounted to Rs. 123,600
  • With an investment of Rs. 45,000 (of which FST supported them with 50 percent of spawn cost) they had earned a good profit.

Till nows, the project has not only boosted the production of mushroom and their livelihoods, but also their confidence and self-esteem. The women of the village are becoming happy, enthuasiastic, vocal and are willing to more work to improve their lives and the village as well. There is a "no looking back attitute" developed in them and more women of the villages are inspired and joining in.

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Our project aimed in enabling towards livelihood to marginalised women farmers of the Indo-Bhutan Border, in the Baska district of Assam through Mushroom Cultivation. The women of the 6 villages of the district through the intervention and extensive handholding of Foundation for Social Transformation (FST) has capacitated themselves towards economic development through cultivation of mushroom and selling them in the local market. During the last cultivation season, they cultivated and sold 700 kilos of mushrooms even after facing challenges due to weather condition. During the beginning phase, FST provided the spawns to them in 14 SHG’s and 4 village level collectives were formed.

In the meantime, Mushroom cultivation has gained popularity as a livelihood opportunity among the women in the villages. Women showed utmost interest in taking up the activity and contributing to the family’s income.

During the last two month, members of FST visited the villages and interacted with the women. The women were enthusiastic and positive towards their economic enhancement through this livelihood opportunity. During the discussion, it was seen that other women were also very much keen in learning the activity. Also, the last year’s damage due to weather and their lack of knowledge in few aspects was a reason they needed an exposure trip to a commercial mushroom cultivation farm.  Accordingly FST organised training cum exposure trip to a full-fledged farm in another district. The women had a very deep learning exchange and their skill on the process was enhanced. Post the exposure they were highly motivated and organised. 20 more women came forward to join this activity and 1 more collective of women has been formed from two villages. They ordered spawns for the current cultivation season. FST contributed half of the amount for the ordered spawns. The enthusiasm and preparation for the cultivation season is very high. Some of the women ordered for spawns separately along with the collective’s requirement. The cultivation process will start from the next month.

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Boost Women’s Livelihood Collectives for Equality

The project began with the plan of assisting 200 mushroom growers from six villages of Baksa district. Post-production and selling of the mushroom produced till the month of May 2019 in namely Kalipur, Matangapar, Natun Howly, Auzurguri, and Amlaiguri villages; the women over these past three months have been engaged in forming their community organization at the village level. As they plan for the next cycle of mushroom cultivation, taking into consideration the challenges, they have come together to form collectives beyond Self-Help Groups. Believing and facilitating in FST’s approach of community philanthropy, the women from these villages have formed five community organizations namely:

-       Kalipur Mahila Samiti at Kalipur village with a total number of 40 members.

-       Trinayan Mahila Samiti at Natun Haoli with a total number of 62 members.

-       Milan Jyoti Mahila Samiti at Motangapar with a total number of 41 members, and

-       Udangsri Mahila Samiti merging the Ahuzarguri and Amlaiguri villages with a total number of 40 members.

Thus, for enhancing discussion on their livelihood opportunities, market linkages as well as networking with the other stakeholders of the village such as the Village Council Development Committee, that works as the village level state institution; these women collectives have come forward to plan and have a dialogue both within themselves and with the external environment. They have focussed in their community organization meetings on increasing the number of women into mushroom cultivation, planning on market linkages beyond the immediate village vicinity, exploring ways to develop in this livelihood activity by exposure visits to established entities on mushroom cultivation. Moreover, the women collective is also engaged in efforts and actions towards their village development in terms of taking up infrastructural issues on roads and connectivity, access to rights of the people from the community and so on.

Major work is done in the last quarter:

  • 4 women collectives formed encompassing 5 villages of Tamulpur and Nagrijuli blocks of Baksa district
  • Regularizing meeting within these collectives on further plans of mushroom cultivation and beyond – expansion of production and markets, village concerns, etc.
  • Kalipur Mahila Samiti has set the benchmark for the collectives by partnering with local institutions in campaigns of cleanliness, raised their concerns to local authorities of community issues as well as expanded in numbers of women mushroom growers in their village.
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The project planned to assist 200 women mushroom growers in six villages in Assam’s one of the frontier districts along the Indo-Bhutan border.  So far FST has helped in developing the skill in mushroom cultivation among the women who are already in Self Help groups (SHGs). The women showed their interest as they considered that the production would be an additional income to their marginal farmer families living in a remote part of the state. 

Facilitating the women in livelihood activities was FST’s strategy to collectivise them in organisations at the village level. FST believes that this would help the women to analyse their situation and take up steps to create a conducive environment where everybody can access rights. Since nearly all of them are members of SHGs, they already have the idea of group and working in a team. However, the space provided to them by the SHGs is restricted within saving, loaning and repaying. A lot of social issues are thus left ignored which could as well be addressed by this united strength of the women. For this reason FST focussed in this project on facilitating the mushroom grower women in forming village level organisations, which would generate their solidarity beyond SHGs. The SHGSs will continue to exist within these organisations. So far the initial works of the organisation building have been taken up by the women in four of the six project villages.

Works done so far:

-          1600 packets of mushroom spawn were distributed among the women

-          Women mushroom growers have produced 172 kg.s of mushroom

-          The production has brought them a profit of INR 17200 as a whole

-          They have conducted meetings, discussed local issues, especially women’s situation

-          In one of the villages the women have called on the local self governance head and discussed about Government entitlements.

 

           


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Organization Information

Foundation for Social Transformation - enabling north east india

Location: Guwahati, Assam - India
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @FSTnortheast
Project Leader:
FST Northeast
Guwahati, Assam India
$1,275 raised of $4,238 goal
 
12 donations
$2,963 to go
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