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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Rural Livelihoods and Sustainable Living: Case-59: ON THE PATH OF PROGRESS – AADARSHA VILLAGE ORGANISATION!


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A Case Study of THE ANDHRA PRADESH RURAL LIVELIHOODS PROJECT

‘Aadarsha’ is the name of our village organisation. ‘Aadarsha’ means ideal, and our village organisation is truly an ideal one. Our village is located 17 KMs away from the mandal headquarters, Addagudur and 80 KMs from the Cluster Livelihoods Resource Centre (CLRC). We formed the Aadarsha Village Organisation on 15 March, 2003 with 141 members.

The story in the members’ words, “The village organisation provided us loans. We knew about thrift and credit activities. We also knew about saving, internal lending and repayment with interest. In the village organisation we had not however focussed on economic and social progress. Women are looked down upon in our village. How do we progress to take up livelihood enhancement activities if the men do not
cooperate?

The need to run a business venture was discussed in the village organisation methodically. We had pooled together a revolving fund of Rs.3, 60,000. With this money, we wanted to buy paddy locally and sell it for
a better price in the markets outside. But we didn’t have any business experience. We thought about this and decided that to enhance our understanding, we would have to undergo some training on income generating activities. First of all, we would have to resolve to stand together and never break up. Then, we needed to acquire leadership qualities. We had to learn about livelihood opportunities, income generation
programmes, marketing and promotional strategies.

Ten members from our village organisation attended a training programme on leadership development and small business and industry promotion held at the Cluster Livelihoods Resource Centre, Bhongir in collaboration with the project implementing agency, SIRD. Here we learnt about business skills and business practices. In turn, during our regular village organisation meetings, we taught other members about our learning from the training programmes. In this manner, all members would learn how to do business. The training programme gave us a lot of confidence and courage. We now formed a committee with five members to share equal responsibility and decided on the paddy business.

In 2007, we purchased 1,200 quintals of paddy, 450 quintals of red gram and 300 quintals of castor – a total worth Rs.8, 00,000 over two seasons. With this, we earned a commission of Rs.12, 000. During the current season, we bought 14,000 quintals of paddy and 437 quintals of red gram, and did Rs.1 crore worth of business. From this, we got a profit of Rs.1, 50,000. We netted a total profit of Rs.2, 10,000 in the current year.  Now committee members are being paid Rs.1, 500 as honorarium per month. All members work with utmost responsibility. We now have the business acumen to scale up and increase the size of our business.

Earlier, women were confined to household work. We have now become a role model for other villages, mainly because we are united.  In doing business, our village organisation bagged first place in the district and second place in the State. We are happy about this achievement not just for us, but also for the
105 persons who were hired for 15 working days per month. Thus, our business activity also generates employment for daily wage workers.  The farmer also benefits immensely now, as he is not cheated by middlemen anymore and also does not incur expenditure on transportation. We buy his produce at reasonable prices at his door step. The farmer benefits to the tune of Rs.70 per quintal.

We wish other village organisations in the state would benefit from such business ventures. 

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