Vijayawada

‘Farm to fibre’ project hopes to create income source for rural women

They will be trained to create eco-friendly products from banana bark

In a push to social entrepreneurship, the Association of Lady Entrepreneurs of India (ALEI) has designed a unique ‘farm to fibre’ project that aims to provide a source of income for women in villages of Andhra Pradesh.

ALEI, which was earlier known as the Association of Lady Entrepreneurs of Andhra Pradesh (ALEAP), would implement the pilot project in Krishna and Kadapa districts in the first phase and would later replicate it across the State.

ALEI has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Swedish giant Ikea, which sells ready-to-assemble furniture, kitchen appliances and home accessories. In order to provide home services tentatively from April 1, 1,000 women have been engaged, 500 each in Krishna and Kadapa districts, in a training programme to make baskets, garbage bins and other products using banana bark.

Wealth from waste

A large number of farmers grow banana crop across Andhra Pradesh. After harvest, the trees are considered waste material. Not many farmers know that the bark of the tree can be converted into fibre that can earn them additional income. This bark is peeled and dried, hand-twisted and woven on a handloom to create eco-friendly products.

To explore this untapped area, ALEI has identified Krishna and Kadapa districts for implementation of this ‘wealth from waste’ project.

“We want to create a win-win situation by buying the banana tree bark from farmers for a price and convert this waste into valuable products,” said K. Ramadevi, founder president of ALEI.

In Krishna district, it is being procured from villages near Challapalli and it will be processed at the ALEAP industrial hub in Surampalli, before being moulded into beautiful products.

“Production will start by March 20 and we want to start delivery of the products from April 1. Each woman involved in this activity will earn anything between ₹6,000 and ₹8,000 in the beginning. Over time, they can earn up to ₹15,000,” said Ms. Ramadevi.

The idea is to put more money in the hands of women, which would lead to better health and well-being and quality education for their families, Ms. Ramadevi said.

‘Huge market’

“There is a huge market in European nations for these eco-friendly products with more and more people opting for responsible consumption,” she added.

“Women in a few villages in Karnataka and Madurai in Tamil Nadu are engaged in this activity, but there is still a wide gap between the demand and supply and we are trying to fill this gap,” Ms. Ramadevi said.

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 2:27:56 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Vijayawada/farm-to-fibre-project-hopes-to-create-income-source-for-rural-women/article26489362.ece

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