Food processing initiative changes lives of tribal women

Updated: July 12, 2018

JAIPUR: A group of women in a village near Nana, Pali district have decided to take it upon themselves to contribute to the family income by processing the local fruits found in the wild and selling the pulp to frozen food vendors across the country. 

The self-help group called ‘Ghoomar’ comprising only women of Garasiya tribe speak only the local dialect and since 2013 have been helped by an NGO in their endeavour. The women collect custard apple which grows in the wild and process the pulp which is then sold. The initiative has been so successful that ghoomer was registered as a company in 2015 and in the last financial year had a turnover of Rs 20 lakh.

Around 150 women who work there claimed that their lives have changed drastically and said that they were selling the fruit for a very low prize to the local vendors previously. Chunni Bai who has been with Ghoomar since the beginning told TOI, “With the additional income all my seven children go to school. I have set up a general store and even bought a water pump for my land. Before this I was dependent on the meagre income of my husband and a bit of maize which we grow.” Apart from custard apple, the group has now even started selling jamun (Indian blackberry) pulp to frozen food chains.

The processing unit is equipped with four pulping machines as well as cold storage containers. Each woman at the unit is paid Rs. 160 per day while those who collect the fruit are given Rs 10 per kg of custard apples. During season time from October to January close to 23 tonnes of custard apple is processed which is then sold to vendors in places like Udaipur, Ahmedabad, Pali, Jodhpur and others. Premnath Yogi, a field worker of Srijan, a NGO helping the women said, “Ghoomar is managed completely by the women and we just support them. Not just the pulp of custard apple but we also sell the seeds since they are used in insecticides. However, since it’s a seasonal fruit, we are also looking at other local produce for processing and have recently started with jamun which will also be quite profitable as apart from the pulp, its seeds can be sold for around Rs 100/kg as they are used in ayurvedic medicines.”

The venture has changed the lives of the women in more ways than one and all of them are even constructing individual toilets in their homes. Kamli Devi, elaborating on this said, “When I initially joined the group, my husband would fight with me and at times even hit me because here it is not encouraged to interact with outsiders. However, now his attitude has changed and he actually encourages me. Due to the exposure we are gradually realising other things as well and one of the most important decisions is that all women of Ghoomar will build toilets in their houses and encourage others to do the same.”

Source: The Times of India

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