Name: Saraswati Mahila Bachat Gat
Location: Khairi Pannase, Nagpur, Maharashtra
Project: Production of natural pesticides
The savvy women of Saraswati Mahila Bachat Gat SHG have found a niche enterprise – producing and sourcing neem oil and Dash Parni – for local cotton farmers looking for natural ways to keep crop pests at bay.
Neem oil is excellent at keeping sucking pests like white flies and aphids away, whilst Dash Parni is a combination of 10 types of tree leaves that are mixed and boiled to apply as pest control. It’s a win-win for both women and farmers.
It all started when ACF mobilised 11 women – all of them farmers – to form an SHG. Together they identified a lucrative opportunity which would solve a farm problem. Cotton farmers were looking to transition away from expensive chemical pesticides, which had toxic effects, particularly on the body, from overexposure.
Neem oil and ‘Dash Parni’ were identified as possible solutions which could be made by the women and sold at a fraction of the cost of chemical pesticide. So the women got to work and made their first batches of product – applying it to their own crops to test its effectiveness. It was good stuff.
And the enterprise took off, with demand quickly outstripping supply. Making just 200 litres, they soon found they required up to 1000 litres, and so filled the gap by procuring it.
They soon also diversified into making Yellow Sticky Traps – hand-made devices, hung in fields to attract and stick aphids who damage cotton crops. Today the women sell more than 10,000 traps every year.
But with so many farmers in the region, and with ACF having ready access to 1 lakh of them, other SHGs were motivated and started their business. 12 SHGs with 144 women are all on board. Talk about forging their own path in life!