Agriculture in our country is heavily dependent on chemical fertilizers. And every year, around Rabi crop and Kharif crop season we hear farmers struggling to procure fertilizers at a reasonable rate. This cost of fertilizers is a big hit for any farmer, ultimately affecting the farmer’s income and the economy as a whole.
Farmers across the states struggle to obtain urea, organic fertilizer essential for various crops. Rural economies like Chhattisgarh struggle to maintain parity between the demand and supply of organic fertilizers in the peak crop seasons.
Not only this, the fertilizer is black-marketed and hence does not reach the right users of the product. To combat this issue, Under the Bhupesh Baghel government, “Gaudhan Nyay Yojana” was launched.
Most of the farmers in Chhattisgarh and other states have cows. Along with agriculture, farmers are also dependent on their cows for income. But most farmers are not able to generate steady and sizable income from both these avenues. To counter these financial problems and support farmers, Gaudhan Nyay Yojna was launched by the government.
Cow dung is available in abundance in the villages and Gaudhan Nyay Yojna provides financial support to farmers by procuring cow dung (Gobar) at Rs 2 per Kg. This cow dung is then used in making organic manure. This solves the dual problem for the state. It solves the issue of shortage of organic and chemical fertilizers in the state. It also supports the farmers by providing financial support by procuring their cow dung.
Who knew that this short step could lead to transforming the rural economy in Chhattisgarh?
What started as a solution to alternatives for chemical fertilizers in the state has now become a strong driving force toward women’s empowerment. Now, this small step is creating avenues for entrepreneurship in a rural economy. This scheme launched in 2019 has now taken the name of the Gobar Revolution.
It might sound really strange to you, but cow dung – Gobar can be utilized in numerous ways that might have never crossed your mind. The utility of gobar besides producing the most effective fertilizer for crops has changed people’s perspectives.
Gobar is a waste product but it can give us a lot of essential byproducts if processed properly. Similarly, the waste generated by our society is gold if processed and tackled with care, you can check how EcoWrap pays you for your waste and make designer items from that trash.
Gauthan – Rural Industrial Park (Gobar Revolution Backbone)
Gauthan is the focal point of “Gauthan Nyay Yojana” under which gobar – cow dung is procured from farmers or gobar collectors. Dung so procured from these Gauthans across villages is then utilized in the production of vermicompost. Initially, Gauthans were set up as daycare centres for cattle. Now, these Gauthans have been transformed into Rural Industrial Parks. These Gauthans have proved to be a backbone for the whole Gobar Revolution.
A rural industrial park houses cows, vermi composting pits and provides an infrastructure for various cottage industries like soaps, perfumes, organic farming, textiles, and many more. A beautifully decorated tall structure called a distillery placed in the middle of every Gauthan is the pride of the industrial park. This distillation machine is used to derive extracts of herbs and plants like lemongrass, mint, etc, and is then used as a raw material for making products.
Rural Industrial Park is a co-working space and training center for entrepreneurs and various SHGs (Self Help Groups – A common group of women who come together to solve issues in society) that come and gather around to run their businesses. As of now, only a few SHGs are allowed in one industrial park.
Here are some ways this Gobar revolution is helping the state economy.
Artisanal Soaps Using Gobar
Nobody would ever associate gobar with a fragrance, but the artisanal soap makers from Chhattisgarh think it is a boost to their rural economy. . The Gauthan produces raw materials like herbal extracts, etc that can be used in making artisanal soaps and perfumes that are then sold in the local markets and weekly village haat.
Women of SHG take pride in their high-quality fragrant soaps. They want to match it and beat the top brands’ packaging, look, and feel while being cost-effective at the same time.
Cow dung procured from the farmers is used to make vermicompost. Vermi compost is a high-quality organic manure that is highly successful in increasing the quality of soil and increasing the agriculture output in the long run.
The diversity of climatic conditions in the Chhattisgarh region and its vegetation make this place suitable for growing different kinds of mushrooms.
Mushrooms are generally a high-demand product and it is considered a highly profitable cash crop by farmers. The supply from the natural cultivation process was not enough. To tackle this issue and help farmers, Gauthans have established dark rooms specially designed for mushroom farming.
High-quality vermicompost produced from processing cow dung is then used in cultivating mushrooms. This helps in increasing the productivity and quality of mushrooms.
Mushroom farming was unknown to many until Chhattisgarh women started making money from the same. Most women initially worked at composting units, but mushroom farming has become their first choice over time.
One such successful example is Bindu Sinha, a woman resident of Chhattisgarh who first began cultivating mushrooms in 2020. The production increased from 150 bags to 200 bags in the subsequent year, and she is able to easily sell her produce in the local markets.
Diyas And Other Utility Products
Women-run self-help groups got lakhs of orders around Diwali’2021 for eco-friendly diyas and other utility products across various cities. Other utility products included idols, flower pots, firewoods, and incensed sticks.
In addition to this, processes are being developed to produce pens, paints, cement, and bricks using cow dung. Chhattisgarh government also inaugurated a project on power generation from cow-dung in 2021.
The government has taken initiative to set up retail super marts namely C-Mart or Chhattisgarh Mart to sell various utility products made by the SHGs. As of now, 27 such marts have been set up driving everyday sales worth 20K to 50k.
Is Gobar Economy feasible?
A bigger vision is not a cakewalk, challenges will always cross your path. In the same way, there are some challenges being faced by the Gobar economy.
- The amount of gobar and its quality that can be procured has reduced
- People are mixing impurities to increase the weight of cow-dung
- Gobar has become a major source of liquid cash because of which middlemen get involved
- There is stagnation in some areas because professionals are being engaged in the loop of the supply chain
Despite all these challenges, it is appreciable for a rural economy to achieve this much in a span of about 2 years. The vision of the Chhattisgarh government stands clear on the point to make it an entrepreneurial rural economy.
The government is working hard to make their Gobar economy successful so that other states can also learn from the same. All the products prepared in Gauthan go through standardized processes and efforts are being put in to enhance the quality and to sell them through e-commerce platforms.
If you loved reading this, also read a story about how Green Worms managing waste by collecting and recycling the garbage since 2014.
Feature Image Source: CmChhattisgarh (1)(2)&(3).
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