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Rural women in Bhubaneswar take to kitchen gardening as alternative livelihood during lockdown



Converting the dreadful COVID-19 crisis into an opportunity, a handful of rural women from underprivileged communities in Bhubaneswar are raising vegetable gardens at home, with the support of SOS Children’s Villages of India (SOSCVI), a child care NGO, as a viable source of income during the lockdown that saw men, the primary breadwinners of their families, lose jobs.

The women, who are primary caregivers of children, are the direct beneficiaries of Family Strengthening, the community outreach programme of SOSCVI. The programme aims at increasing the household income of vulnerable families, and thus, upholds and enhances the quality of parental care for their children.

The programme covers over 250 families with more than 600 children in the villages of Mahimangar, Kujimahal, Dalua, Nadhara, Giringaput and Haridamada of Khordha district. The families belong to tribal, scheduled caste and other backward classes with many of them working as migrant labourers.

With agri inputs like seeds, technical guidance, and cash support from SOSCVI, the women have become successful in cultivating vegetables such as spinach, pumpkin and brinjal that fetch them up to Rs 100 per day, besides catering to the nutritional needs of the family.

Commenting about the enterprising rural women, Sumanta Kar, Secretary General, SOSCVI, said, “Many of these families suddenly became cash-strapped when men, the sole breadwinners, lost their jobs during successive lockdowns… Hence, we are helping these families explore alternative livelihoods including home gardening.  We provide agri inputs and arrange guidance from agriculture experts. It has proven to be a game changer. We are planning to replicate this success in more communities in other locations.”

SOSCVI is also encouraging the women to get into raising chicken, selling eggs, making snacks, and other ways of value addition to their produce.

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