BHUBANESWAR: Women living in rural areas, bear the brunt of food crises resulting in malnutrition and other disorders. Typically, the income from small landholdings and agricultural harvests lasts only for six months. After this, farmers have to search for other alternatives which barely meet their family’s expenses. This is the situation pan India.
The Nikhil Self Help Group of Bhuliadihi village of Rengali Block of Sambalpur district in Odisha have managed to ensure that their families do not undergo the trauma of hunger pangs. A way out was worked by Aditya Aluminium, an Aditya Birla Group unit.
Almost four years ago, the CSR team of Aditya Aluminium, identified this village and encouraged its women to form a Self Help Group (SHG). The SHG was subsequently formed with 10 members who decided to farm fish in the local pond.
For this, they consulted Aditya Aluminium’s staff which, with the help of local experts, provided the necessary technical guidance. They also helped the SHG meet their credit requirement at the local bank.
Nikhil Self Help Group began operations in July 2013. They purchased 2000 fish from the local fisheries department and began cultivating them in the local pond. After eight months, they had harvested around one quintal of fish and made a profit of Rs. 12,000. Now, the SHG annually produces almost 10 to 12 quintals of fish and makes an annual profit of around Rs. 1 lac.
Under its CSR initiatives, Aditya Aluminium has recently also launched a new initiative towards sustainable livelihood. This encourages the women-folk of the region to start new businesses like the production and sale of dry snacks. Around 40 women from four SHGs – Samaleswari (Tileimal), Women’s Star (Lahamani), Laxmi (Ludhapali) and Jai Maa Santoshi (Pondaloi) in Rengali block had participated in the three day training programme organised by Aditya Aluminium. After completing the initial training and supported by the trainer, the women produced 50 kg of snacks which were served in the plant canteen and also sold at the local market. The snacks are produced under the brand name ‘Bharat and Gruhini Mixture’.
Surabhi Barik, Secretary of Samaleswari Group, remarked that although they were quite apprehensive about production of the snacks initially, with training provided by Aditya Aluminium, they look forward to be involved in bigger ventures in the near future.
“We are always concerned about the women of this region. By promoting SHGs we aimed to instill a sense of entrepreneurship and self-dependency amongst them so that they can live with pride and dignity. We have seen visible progress in this regard and hope this training will be beneficial for them”, stated President and Unit Head of Aditya Aluminum, Kailash Pandey.
“Aditya Alumunium has provided women entrepreneurs the means to start their own enterprise like fish cultivation, poultry farming. We have also given vocational training in tailoring. We believe empowering women gives them a new confidence and enormous self-esteem.”, he said.