Mahua laddu — a livelihood success story for Adivasi women

A mahua tree being numbered at Sungu Mathadiguda in Adilabad district.

A mahua tree being numbered at Sungu Mathadiguda in Adilabad district.   | Photo Credit: S. Harpal Singh

A women’s group has its order-book filled for the year

Amid the gloomy atmosphere accompanying the COVID-19 crisis, it is the tribal heartland of Adilabad that has given some reason to be happy. The 10-month-old project involving a group of poor Adivasi women in making eatables and savouries from the sacred mahua or ippa flowers (Madhuca indica) has bagged a ₹ 16 lakh order for supply of laddus to anganwadi centres in Jainad, Gudihatnoor, Ichoda, Neredigonda and Boath mandals in the district.

“We have an order for making over one tonne of mahua laddus to be supplied as nutritional supplement for one year to 160 anganwadi centres. This order is part of the ₹ 1 crore corporate social responsibility (CSR) project by the Power Grid Corporation of India Limited,” disclosed T. Rakesh Reddy, Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellow (PMRDF), who is looking after the project on behalf of Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA), Utnoor.

Encouraged by the then district Collector D. Divya, some 21 aboriginal tribe women members of the Bhimbai Adivasi Mahila Sahakara Sangham (BAMSS), Utnoor, had started making savouries like mahua laddu, mahua salt and pepper fry and sweet fried mahua in the traditional manner in June last year.

Dedicated customers

During the months that have passed by, the Sangham got dedicated customers from different places, including Hyderabad, for its products especially the laddu and recorded a turnover of ₹ 3.7 lakh selling savouries made of 5 quintals of dried ippa flowers and two quintals of other ingredients.

“The CSR order is a big boost to our activity,” observed Kumra Vittal Rao, manager of Centre for Collective Development – Prajamitra, an NGO, which is chipping in with hand-holding support. “In order to ensure quality, we have selected ippa trees located mostly in the forest close Shambu Mathadiguda and Sungu Mathadiguda habitations in Utnoor mandal,” he revealed while participating in numbering of the selected trees along with the sangham members.

Tribal suppliers

As many as 256 trees belonging to 71 tribal families of the two Mathadiguda habitations have been selected for collection of the 100 quintal of mahua flowers needed for the CSR project. The women’s group will purchase the flowers from the tribal families at a cost of ₹ 20 per kg, which is almost double the price offered by organisations like the Girijan Cooperative Society.

“We will supply quality laddus to the anganwadis at any cost,” vowed the president of the BAMSS Kumra Bhagubai, a picture of determination. “We will also try to make and sell other items like mahua chikki which have a good retail demand,” she added, evidently excited over the business prospect for her group.

“The laddu has got excellent nutritional value as per a report from the National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad. We are also maintaining the standards as required by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India,” Mr. Reddy pointed out to highlight the food safety aspect.

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Printable version | Jun 2, 2020 2:34:45 PM |

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