The nature of agriculture and dairy is that the work is relentless and the products are perishable.
photo taken in August 2020
Food and nourishment being a constant requirement of life also makes agriculture and dairy products essential commodities. In several of our stories so far we have seen how often the shutting or slowing down of businesses during the lockdown phase were somewhat redeemed with our beneficiaries opting to sell milk packets, open Tiffin shops and even convert their auto rickshaws into mobile vegetable and grocery shops.
photo taken in June 2020
Perishables however have their flip side too as Ramayee and her husband realised this March/April. They own a plot of 25 cents intercropping flowering plants used for Pujas with vegetables. During the complete lockdown phase she lost income as flowers weren’t high priority at all. However, last December Ramayee was given a loan to purchase a 7 month pregnant cow, and come the lockdown her cow delivered a beautiful female calf and began producing upto 8 to 10 litres of milk per day. While procuring cattle feed became daunting due to broken supply chains and price rise, this daily milk production and assured sale collected from their house by local distributors @ Rs.30/day saved them immediate precarious existence.
photo taken in July 2020
There was however the nagging problem of cow feed and this is where the main physical struggle lay. Ramayee and other women who owned cows made a 4 mile journey to cut grass and bring to the homestead. Sometimes this journey had to be done twice a day at the cost of considerable physical exhaustion.
Today finally feed prices have come down, and with the new season crops are being sown and harvested in their land. Her husband hires a vehicle and procures produce and flowers from other small land holders for a commission and transports and sells the goods at the wholesale market. Things are limping back to normal.
It must be added here that the villagers at Angalakuppam have an extremely strong relationship with our social workers based on trust. At every step Sharana is there to help, guide and propose ideas to them for their empowerment. This has been evident in the hope they placed in our guidance during these tough times. Each effort to self help is a small victory in the path to self sufficiency in this village, situated on the border of Pondicherry and Tamil Nadu and orphaned by the development programmes of both.
-penned by Mrs. Alo Pal, board member.
photo taken in January 2020 (pre-covid)