Read full article by Vineet Upadhyay@TNIE Photo Credit: Have Pure Initiative
UTTARAKHAND: Rekha Devi had no idea that the red rice produced in her lush green fields in the Saryu river valley in Uttarakhand’s Bageshwar can fetch over Rs 100 per kilogram. What she thought was a neglected routine crop has now become a ‘Superfood’ with rising demand from across the country along with hundreds of other products grown, processed, packaged by women farmers across 850 Van Panchayats of the hill state.
This was made possible by the ‘HavePure NATURALLY YOURS’ initiative implemented by the state forest department under the Uttarakhand Forest Resource Management Project (UFRMP). “The project is aimed at helping women farmers, empowering them and making them self-reliant. The initiative is also focused on promoting native species of grains, pulses, cereals, millets and other natural produce native to the hills of Uttarakhand for the betterment of society.
Many of these products are of high dietary value with countless benefits,” says Neethu Lakshmi M, deputy project director. The initiative, backed by the Government of Japan through the Japan International Cooperation Agency, supports these women by creating irrigation facilities, value addition and marketing of their products. The project is providing all-encompassing and integral support to 1,500 Self Help Groups (SHGs) involving about 15,000 women presently.
In many cases, these women farmers get 5-10% more value than the government’s minimum support price of a particular grain, cereal, or millet. “I never knew that I will be doing something this good in my life. Now, I know almost everything about farming with proper technique. It almost feels like my rebirth,” says Sushila Devi from Kokliyal Gaon Van Panchayat.