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Neem: Win-Win case for health and women in Gujarat

Neem: Win-Win case for health and women in Gujarat

Bharuch, Gujarat, Sept 23 (UNI) Rural women in this small town of Gujarat are proudly adding to their family's income and health, courtesy age-old bitter fruit Neem. Gujarat Narmada Fertilisers and Chemicals (GNFC) Limited has initiated a unique project, where neem seeds are used in manufacturing soap, shampoo, oil, hand-wash and pesticides apart from coating of urea with the magic fruit. Rural women and landless labourers are majorly involved in it. Over one lakh women, involved in fruit collection, have achieved socio-economic empowerment as their incomes have increased substantially after getting involved in the project. A well-organised system has been established for buying neem fruits from these rural women at a fair price. These fruits, which have powerful medicinal and pest controlling elements, are processed to get in a cake form and then oil is extracted, to be used for coating of urea. Usha, a who has been working for a year in the factory , told UNI at the project premises that she earns Rs 300 every day. Workers in the factory, majority being women, have the benefit of insurance and Provident Fund among others. Under the skill development programme, these women were trained by National Skill Development Corporation and enjoy the benefit of health check-ups too. Women, who work under Self Help Groups, work for eight hours a day. They are allotted duties by rotation so that threshold limit is not crossed under the Labour laws. In the first year of the project, Rs 10-12 crore of supplementary income was created for one lakh rural women and landless labourers. Almost 4,000 centres will be opened all over Gujarat for collection of Neem seeds through SHGs, Mahila Pani Samitis and Milk Cooperatives. The Central government has made neem-coating mandatory of urea which has brought down its rates substantially from 250 dollars per tonne to 85 dollars per tonne. The GNFC has initiated a massive drive to create awareness in rural society and farmers for plantation of Neem trees, which have grown in India with the human settlement and have been part of the Indian culture for centuries. UNI RSA SV SB 1059

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