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Friday, August 12, 2011

Rural Livelihoods and Sustainable Living: Case-80: ECONOMICALLY INDEPENDENT AT SIXTY!


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A Case Study of THE ANDHRA PRADESH RURAL LIVELIHOODS PROJECT

Sixty-year-old Dhulla Venkatamma and her husband Ramulu live in Kothapalli village of Chandampet mandal in Nalgonda district.  They have a son and daughter-in-law who live separately. They have one acre of dryland which did not yield much so they worked as daily wage labourers. Ramulu also traded in goat and sheep skins, a trade he had learnt from his father. With this income they lead a fairly comfortable life.  When the trade in skins was bad they used to migrate to Miryalaguda to look for work.

Seven years ago Ramulu fell and has been bedridden. The mantle of running the family fell on Venkatamma’s shoulders. She tried to continue her husband’s business for which she had to borrow money. She was selling the skins at Devarakonda for Rs.10 per skin, but spent more than half her profits on bus fares, on paying back the loan and on Ramulu’s medical treatment. It was becoming increasingly difficult for her to run the home.

When the APRLP watershed programme came to Kothapalli village, Venkatamma joined the Venkateshwara self-help group and saved money on a regular basis. She took a loan of Rs.5, 000 from the village organisation livelihood fund and continued her business. Earlier, because the interest rate on the money she borrowed was very high she could not take more than Rs.1, 000 and so could not visit more than two or three villages to procure skins. Now with a loan of Rs.5, 000 from the village organisation and with a simple system of repayment at a low interest rate, Venkatamma is able to visit twenty villages
to buy skins.

She preserves all the skins in salt and sells them in Devarakonda once a week. Thus she sells about fifty skins in a week and is able to make between Rs.10-20 profit on each skin. She now earns not less than Rs.3, 000 per month. All the nearby hamlets are inhabited by the Lambadas who slaughter many goats and sheep during festivals. At these times she is able to buy and sell up to 500 skins in the week. She was able to earn Rs.60, 000 during the last year from this business. From her earnings she repays Rs.500 to the village organisation.

Venkatamma spends Rs.1, 500 on the household and Rs.500 for her husband’s treatment. Besides, she pays toward the education of her grand-children. She has bought twenty small ruminants valued at about
Rs.40, 000. She claims that ever since the watershed programme began she is able to earn reasonably well, even at the age of sixty, and is independent.

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