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Cuddalore and Nagapattinam are disaster-prone districts which were badly hit by tsunami affecting the livelihoods, shelter and agricultural lands of the people. These areas have also been affected by 2006 and 2010 heavy floods. This made the cultivable land unfertile and people were taking other forms of livelihood. NGO Swayam Shikshan Prayog (SSP) had taken the initiative in improving the lives and livelihoods of the people in selected villages of these districts by engaging women in economic generation.
Women groups from coastal vulnerable villages in Cuddalore and Nagapattinam was eager to learn new initiatives that bring changes in their lives as well as benefit for the entire group. They had the opportunity of a learning exchange programme with the support of SSP on mushroom cultivation. When they recognized the demand for mushroom in the market, they decided to learn more about the techniques of cultivation. They had requested Women Federation leaders to explore possibilities of training on mushroom cultivation. The Federation has provided training to 10 women from these groups through Tamil Nadu Agriculture research institute office located in Cuddalore. The three day training provided hands-on training opportunity to the participants on mushroom rearing and harvesting. After receiving the training, one women group started the unit of mushroom cultivation at Nepatur Theevu and Chinnandi Kuzhi villages. Now each group is selling 2 to 3 kg per day in local market at the rate of Rs. 150 for a kg. The women’s federation supported one of the SHG in Kuravloor to start the mushroom cultivation unit. Their initiative was supported through a revolving fund from the federation. Now the group earns monthly Rs 2500 to 4000 by selling mushroom for rupees 140 to 180 per kg.
This has made a drastic change in the income pattern of these women in these villages. Earlier their income level was meager and had to face many hardships while today they live with pride says one of the women leaders.