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UK to boost income in hilly areas with growth centres

Jun 25, 2018

These growth centres will help in making local women self-sufficent as well as promote local resources of the region

Dehradun: The mountain state of Uttarakhand is planning to develop  the ‘Nyaya Panchayats’ as growth centres from where local products will be promoted and women’s  self-help groups(SHGs) will be linked to them.

Speaking at an event here recently, state Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat underlined the need to make natural produce more useful and provide value addition to it so that farmers could earn more along with the other traditional works being done by them.

Observing that women’s empowerment was essential for the overall development of the state, he said about 2800 women’s self-help groups have been formed in the state so far. It was important for local people to develop professional thinking and stress should be laid to promote the branding and processing of the local products to increase the income of villagers, he added.

Rawat pointed out that the demand for organic products was increasing fast and that by preparing such products the hill communities could earn a good livelihood. In this context, he referred to the growing  market demand for honey and said that cooperative societies would be created in the hilly areas so as to increase honey production and thereby the livelihoods of local communities.

The Chief Minister was inaugurating a new organic product launched by a leading Uttarakhand NGO, the Himalayan Action Research Centre (HARC) at Karnprayag in Chamoli district. He said HARC had started work with three products long back and today more than 30 products were being made by the organization.

Stating that the best products  are being produced by properly  processing wild fruits, which are providing  self-employment opportunities  to local women’s SHGs, Mr Rawat urged that all the women working with HARC should be provided with the necessary training in best processing and branding techniques so that they would be able to produce high quality products and get good value at both national and international levels.

HARC has been in the forefront of mobilizing the hill women to play a key role in the socio-economic development of their families and communities. By forming a cooperative, these women started making several processed food products, which are attractive alternatives to the packaged food items promoted by multinationals.

From a humble beginning in 2003, the cooperative now boasts over 250 women belonging to 22 SHGs. They are actively involved in the production and sale of garlic, ginger, chilli, mixed vegetable and mango pickle, fruit jam, chutney and amla (gooseberry) candy.

One of the cooperative’s earliest members Mohini, a resident of Dhari village in Uttarkashi district, recalls that they started their endeavours by making garlic pickle and each woman got a net profit of Rs 500. “Today, I am a master trainer and help other group members to process and prepare pickle”, she says.

When HARC started its intervention in Uttarkashi district in 2003, the Mahila Mangal Dals (village-level women’s welfare groups) that came into being under different government development schemes were inactive because of the lack of proper vision, guidance and plan of action. Men had control over the cash and women had a low level of awareness and no opportunity to participate in village meetings.

The NGO began its work by developing a cadre of women and girl motivators from different villages who played a crucial role in creating an enabling environment in their respective villages for the empowerment of local women and girls. “Our workers explained the benefits of an activity if managed collectively and then started imparting training to the women by setting up processing units that were located at accessible places,” says HARC founder Mahendra Kunwar.

The outcome was the creation of ten women’s SHGs, which decided to set up agro-eco-based income generation activities by trading surplus pulses, millets, spices and some processed items from locally available raw material which helped to enhance local incomes. END


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