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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Rural Livelihoods and Sustainable Living: Case-62: HALEEM BI WINS THE BATTLE FOR SURVIVAL!

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Haleem Bi lives in M K Kottala village in Devanakonda mandal of Kurnool district. Abused by an alcoholic husband who was incapable of earning a living, she found herself responsible for running her household and taking care of her two sons and two daughters. Despite many hardships she never lost hope.

The staff of RAIDS, an NGO, and APRLP came to the village to enhance awareness on watershed programmes. Several meetings were conducted to mobilise women to start self-help groups. There was a good response after Haleem Bi took the lead and started forming self-help groups. This activity gave her self-confidence a boost. RAIDS supported and trained her.

Haleem Bi owns five acres of rainfed land on which she cultivated Bengal gram. The income from the crop was not enough to meet the needs of the family, so she had to supplement her income by working as a wage labourer. She wanted to experiment with an alternative source of livelihood. She took a loan of Rs.10, 000 from her group and with Rs.5, 000 she bought five sheep and with another Rs.5, 000 she bought one bull. She reared them carefully and after one year sold the sheep for Rs.8, 000, making a profit of Rs.3, 000. She repaid Rs.5, 000 as part of the loan and with Rs.3, 000 bought three more sheep. She used the bull for agricultural activities.

In April 2006 she took another loan of Rs.20, 000 from the Productivity Enhancement fund of APRLP. With Rs.15, 000, she constructed four vermicompost pits. To provide shade she covered them with a thatched roof, and to protect the earthworms from the hens she put a fence around them. With the balance Rs.5, 000 she purchased earthworms.

In three months she got 15 quintals of vermicompost. She applied 8 quintals as manure in her own fields and stored the rest. She saw good results in her fields, and as a result she stopped buying chemical fertilisers. Several farmers came to buy vermicompost from her.  The asking rate is Rs.5-6 per kg which meant that the stock that she had was worth Rs.3, 500-4, 000.

In 75 days each bed can yield 3-4 quintals of vermicompost. It does not require much effort. Haleem Bi spends only an hour taking care of the pits. She also works in her field and as a wage labourer and takes care of her sheep. The different sources of income have improved her family’s economic situation.

She counseled her husband to stop drinking. Her role as a leader of the self-help group brought about a change in him. Many women visited their residence and he realised her importance and wanted to be respected too. It took some time but finally he stopped drinking.  The family is now happy with the children studying and enough income for good food and other expenses.

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