Barwani (Madhya Pradesh): As Manju Gehlot drops the dark yellow pieces of turmeric root into the grinding machine, the production room quickly fills with a strong curry-like smell. For her and the handful of other women packing and labelling bags of spices, this is the sweet - or rather spicy - smell of success.
Together, with the support of Manju’s MBA graduate son, these women from the small Heribar village in Barwani district had started their own spice production business 10 years back in 2012. Stacked on a shelf is the current inventory: small bags of ground turmeric, cumin, kasoori methi, coriander and hot pepper – all staples of Indian cooking, Manju is currently selling eight different spices under her product line.
Sharing her journey details from being a small farmer to an entrepreneur supporting about a dozen village women associated with her self help group to help their families, she said it all started from harvesting 80-kilogram turmeric on her agriculture farm in 2012 when she decided to cultivate turmeric.
As her financial condition was not good, she decided to start a self-help group of 10 women. Instead of selling this turmeric, Manju decided to sow this turmeric and managed to get a produce of 10 quintals which then multiplied to 190 quintals.
With good yield, Manju and the other women of the group got the right motivation, but the lack of a market was a major hurdle staring them in the face. To surmount this problem, Manju decided to engage her MBA son Rahul Gehlot and her decision paid rich dividends as he is not only helping in selling the products locally but is also marketing the products.
“We think there’s a good market for selling our spices in nearby shops and markets,” says Manju, who is in her 50s. Wearing a colourful yellow veil around her face as she does the grinding, she says, “We have a special objective of empowering women because we feel if the women are empowered then the whole family is empowered, the whole society is empowered,” says Manju with a big smile on her face.
“If the mother is empowered she can bring up the children and support the family in a much better way,” she explains.
After turmeric, Manju is now inspired to cultivate ginger and she has got a loan of Rs 24 lakh as well. District collector Shivraj Singh Verma also expressed happiness about this, saying that the women of the group have become entrepreneurs and this is a matter of great happiness.
Collector Verma said that about nine thousand groups are being operated by women and other women are inspired by these women.