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Monday, July 11, 2011

Rural Livelihoods and Sustainable Living: Case-49: BITTER NEEM SWEETENS DHANAMMA’S LIFE!

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Kothapalli Dhanamma lives with her husband, Parvathalu and three sons in Kothapalli village in Chandampet Mandal of Nalgonda district. They own three acres of degraded land. They used to cultivate millet, castor and cotton but because the rainfall was scanty and they had to spend a lot on the crops they earned only Rs.8, 000 to Rs.10, 000 each year. When there was no work in their fields the couple used to work as labourers.  During the months of November and December there was no agricultural activity, so they had no work in their fields nor could they get an opportunity to work as labourers. Instead, whatever they earned would be spent on paying off debts. This forced them to migrate to Guntur, Macherla and other nearby areas to earn a livelihood, and their older son had to drop out of school in the ninth standard.

When the APRLP watershed programme was initiated in her village Dhanamma not only became a member of the Anu self-help group but also got involved in maintaining the thrift and credit programme. She worked hard for the development of the group. Her group took a loan of Rs.18, 000 from the village organisation’s Livelihood Fund, the objective of which is to provide income-generating opportunities for
poor families. With the assistance of the DWMA they purchased a Neem Pulveriser. Dhanamma has been entrusted with the work of operating the pulveriser for which she is paid Rs.100 a day.

During the season farm owners bring neem seeds to her for grinding for which she is paid Rs.2 per kg. She also grinds neem seeds collected by the village organisation and sells the powder at the rate of Rs.4 per kg. With this income she does not need to go out in search of work for those three months. After paying Rs.25 for power she earns Rs.80 on an average day. Her husband gathered 300 kg of neem seeds, which she ground and sold for a profit of Rs.1, 200.

She used to get only Rs.20-30 as a daily wage but now she earns Rs.80 per day. Dhanamma can even save some money after spending on the household. From her savings she has bought a buffalo for Rs.6, 000 which now provides another source of income through the sale of milk. Thus she has been able to send her son to school.  He got admission into the tenth standard at a residential government school, after paying a fee of Rs.15, 000 a year. Dhanamma is a satisfied woman with a comfortable livelihood.

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