In Tamil Nadu, most women are dependent on agriculture for sustenance. But climate change is turning once-lush fields into wastelands during the dry months, and increased flooding often washes away the harvest in the wet season. The pandemic added insult to injury: the movement of goods and labor have been disrupted by a patchwork of COVID restrictions that vary from state to state. Loss of crops and markets mean the women work long, hard hours yet receive a pittance for their produce or it goes waste for want to buyers.
What we’re doing to help
We provide women’s self-help groups (“sangams”) with the training and supplies to transition to sustainable organic farming, including the use of more weather-resilient, nutrient-rich, and environmentally friendly crops.
In addition, we offer ongoing technical, financial, and emotional support for them to start and run small agribusinesses based on preserving their produce in ways that minimize food waste and maximize sales. Each enterprise is run by a group of five women who inspire, advise, and support each other, and offer a financial safety net.
More profitable farming enables the women to feed their families better and earn enough money to send their children to school and obtain adequate health care. The women can share their knowledge and wealth, and inspire others. At the same time, more environmentally friendly farming practices will improve overall health and safety, while providing better protection against the impacts of climate change and unexpected disruptions like the pandemic.