We are excited to have launched a new project called “Empowering Women’s Agribusiness for COVID Recovery.” What began last year with a pilot project of one women’s self-help group is now expanding throughout the state. Ultimately it will include 3,200 women throughout Tamil Nadu. In July, VOICE Trust staff and volunteers, along with government ministry leaders, met to kick off this expanded project.
The goal of this project is to teach women farmers how to use their harvests to create shelf-stable products. Preserved products are better suited to the ever-changing market conditions resulting from COVID. Shelf-stable products eliminates waste due to food rotting before it can be sold. It also sells for more than the raw produce. As a result, women who can their harvests can earn more income to help them and their families recover from COVID.
At the project launch, we served tasty samples that the women in the pilot project had made from the organic tomatoes they had grown. These included jam, relish, pickles, and tomato papad (similar to potato chips). All the women in the new project are members of self-help groups (SHGs or “sangams”) who have already learned sustainable farming techniques. Now they will be trained to preserve whatever crops they decide to grow for that purpose. They will receive grant money to purchase start-up supplies and equipment. The Madras School of Social Work has generously agreed to provide marketing services for the products they produce.
This project has been funded by donations from Apple employees around the world, through a platform provided by Benevity. We are deeply grateful to everyone who supported us because they cared about the families whose livelihoods were upended by COVID’s devastating second wave in India. We look forward to watching this program unfold and take root, providing the women with the income they need for COVID recovery.