The Chhattisgarh government’s Mahatma Gandhi Rural Industrial Park (RIPA) scheme proves to be a blessing for the rural women of the state.
The state was also ranked first regarding gender equality, according to the NITI Aayog’s India Index in 2020-21.
“Efforts taken towards making rural women self-reliant are reaping positive and better results. Women are marching towards self-reliance by engaging in small businesses,” said a senior official in the chief minister’s secretariat.
The women of Jai Maa Lakshmi women’s self-help group in MK Bahra village of Bagbahara block in Mahasamund district are moving ahead on becoming self-reliant by preparing a snack, namkeen saloni, locally known as mathri.
“They were provided with one-month training by the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM). Ten women in the self-help group are engaged in manufacturing various varieties of delectable snacks. The namkeen manufacturing and packaging machines installed in Gauthans (unused cattle sheds) under the RIPA have enabled these women to become financially independent,” added the official.
Namkeen saloni, prepared by women’s self-help groups, is sold in nearby local markets and other stores.
“Moreover, in response to the demand in the local market, the women are also engaged in making other types of snacks. The members of the group will soon register the names of these food items and then launch them in the market. They have already begun preparing samples. There are plans in the future to sell these items at C-Mart,” said the official.
The president of the group, Yogeshwari Sahu, said that earlier they were engaged in farming, which provided them with an insufficient income, making it difficult to meet the needs of their family.
“The women of the village have started receiving employment because of Gauthans under the RIPA scheme of the state government. They recently packaged and sold more than one-and-a-half quintals of namkeen saloni in local markets. Additionally, they are sharing information about their food items by visiting door-to-door,” said Yogeshwari.
Earlier this year, the Chhattisgarh government decided to set up 300 RIPA units in the state at a cost of Rs 600 crore with an aim to make villagers financially self-dependent.
“The villagers who earlier used to sell raw materials for various forest products are now getting an opportunity at RIPA units to manufacture, process and sell their end products anywhere, including C-marts in the city,” said the official.
The first RIPA unit in the Bastar district was inaugurated on Republic Day this year.