“Now, I earn enough to make ends meet,” beams 37-year-old Baljinder Kaur, a resident of the Hulka village, SAS Nagar. Kaur is among the twelve women dairy farmers associated with the Mai Bhago Prerna Swayam Sahyata Samuh, a self-help group formed in 2019 during training organised for them under the Prerna Project, which was coordinated by the Krishi Vigyan Kendra.
“I hail from a farming background. We heavily depend upon dairy as an important source of subsidiary income. I had been involved in managing the regular operations of my family, but I was not quite aware of the many entrepreneurial opportunities,” she shared.
Kaur, who owns two and half acres of agriculture land in Hulka, added, “Thanks to the Prerna Project, I was provided a loan of Rs 60,000 under the Joint Liability Group scheme, with which I purchased two cows just last year. Now, I sell around twenty litres of milk every day to a local Verka booth. I can subsist on the Rs 4,000 that I make every month and am able provide for all the basic requirements of my family.”
Sarjeet Kaur, 40, shares, “As a dairy farmer, I have greatly benefitted from the guidance of the experts of the Krishi Vigyan Kendra. The institutional support provided to us under the Prerna Project has helped us boost our earnings. I sell milk to a local Verka booth, and in a market in Banur daily.”
The Prerna Project was launched in back in October, 2018, under the aegis of the Swaraj Division of Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd, with a view to uplift women by helping them make a living.
The company has tied up with nationalised financial institutions like the State Bank of India and regional rural banks like the Punjab Gramin Bank.
Under the Joint Liability Group scheme, an amount upwards of Rs 63 lakhs is disbursed among 124 women beneficiaries, as direct agriculture advances.
“There is a need to acknowledge women’s contribution in agriculture and to provide them the necessary opportunities– training and equipment to help them become better farmers and improve their lives. The Prerna Project is a result of this thinking and aspiration,” said Harish Chavan, CEO, Swaraj Division.
The project is said to be strategically aligned with the local, and national development goals, designed through a participatory approach. The objective is to inculcate entrepreneurial and technical skills in women farmers.
To that end, awareness workshops on issues pertaining to farming and farm-tech prosperity are conducted. In 2019, the company had enlisted the help of the Skill Upgradation Training Services, a Ludhiana-based non-government organisation.
“Our NGO has been working towards empowering women for almost the past one decade. We started working in synergy with the Swaraj Division under the Prerna Project about two years back with the shared goal of helping these women maximise their earnings,” said HS Bhatia, Head (SUTS).