SOURCE: E-BOOK ON SUCCESS STORIES RELEASED BY THE PRIME MINISTER ON CIVIL SERVICES DAY 2017
Neem, in India, has always been the magic tree where every part of the tree is of use to all of us.
To help the farming community, the Honourable Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi spelt out his vision of 100% Neem coating of Urea. The Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, in 2015 mandated that all urea sold in India needs to be 100% neem coated.
Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilizers & Chemicals Ltd. ( GNFC ) has taken the lead in this laudable task. GNFC did not take the easy way of importing neem oil and coating urea for this goal but took this as an opportunity to make it a socio-economic project which involved the rural poor with a special focus on women empowerment. The aim was to use the Neem project to improve the livelihood prospects and generate income for this marginalised group.
They say, to see someone prosper just empower and provide the tools then see the magic. That’s what happened with Neem project. In its first year of operations, the project generated INR 12-15 Cr. of supplementary income for about 1.25 lakh rural women and landless labourers.
Today, the project is active in more than 4000 villages across 22 Districts of Gujarat.
The hallmark of the project has been the transparent and fair process followed through the entire value chain. Procurement of Neem fruits was done through women self-help groups, Milk Cooperative Society, Pani Samitis and Forest Department Collection centres. More than 2200 of these and 69 Narmada Khedut Sahay Kendras are the primary collection centres. They have ensured community involvement and minimised pilferage to guarantee an efficient supply chain.
Neem seeds going up from INR 2/- to INR 12/- per kg. The project has also resulted in multiple products like Neem soap, Neem pesticides and De-oiled Neem cakes being available for sale in the market. More than 8000 MT of De-oiled Neem cakes have been sold as organic manure. But the main benefits of this innovative, integrated and community led transformation are the smiles on the faces of the people at the root of it the rural poor. And their smile is worth all the effort.
Impact assessment study by UNDP has shown that in addition to the original aim, the Neem project has helped the community in multiple ways like Skill training to unskilled rural women, Substantial increase in the average income, Increase of decision-making, role for women in the household, Reduction of domestic violence and Transformation of daily wage earners into rural entrepreneurs.