Resilience through agriculture – [Bansidhar and Ila Panda Foundation (BIPF) has played an important role in economically empowering rural women in Odisha by offering training and support in various farm and nonfarm income-generating enterprises, supporting self-reliance and progress.
In the Jajpur district, BIPF advised and encouraged Jyotshna Mohanta and her community in Block Sukinda to diversify their crop cultivation beyond traditional paddy growing. This action resulted in a large increase in their income, improved their living conditions, and inspired a wave of inspiration across their community.
BIPF has not only helped these women establish a steady livelihood, but has also boosted their confidence and independence, setting a great example of empowerment and resilience. These two successful programmes demonstrate the foundation’s approach’s revolutionary potential.
Resilience through agriculture
Jyotshna Mohanta fulfilled customary expectations by managing her household and caring for her family. Like others in her position, she took this as her primary task and carried it out with zeal. She owned around an acre of land, from which her family farmed only paddy and a few vegetables for home usage. Waterlogging during the wet season forced them to rely primarily on paddy farming. They also struggled with the limited market for their produce, making them unwilling to venture beyond paddy and basic vegetable production.
As Jyotshna began her journey towards scientific integrated technology farming, one concern loomed large in her mind: could she grow and sell vegetables? Market research and commercial vegetable farming appeared to be difficult challenges. Her spouse, on the other hand, encouraged her to take the first move and start the business. The BIPF’s support, their interaction with the horticulture department, exposure to different farms, training in vegetable cultivation, and ongoing follow-up and coaching all contributed greatly to their readiness to manage farming activities sustainably.
The irony is in the low output levels, which are mostly attributable to a lack of awareness and technological know-how. Mushrooms, as an indoor crop, do not require fertile land or a large financial commitment to cultivate. This, paired with its large profit margin, gives it an efficient solution to various rural challenges such as poverty, unemployment, and nutritional inadequacy. Furthermore, this trade may readily provide part-time and full-time employment to rural households with low income, particularly women, because it can be done during their free time without interfering with their usual home tasks.
Recognising these opportunities and with the goal of catalysing rural economy upliftment and women empowerment, the Bansidhar and Ila Panda Foundation took the initiative to encourage mushroom farming among its Self Help Group (SHG) members. It’s a popular transaction because of its ease, little initial investment, and substantial economic return.
Recognising the great potential of mushroom growing, the foundation set out to promote it among the economically challenged SHG members of the Tangi Choudwar Block, Cuttack District. Mushroom farming is an enticing trade since it is non-laborious, requires little investment for a high return, and produces results in a short period of time.