The Neem Project
This topic provides information about the Neem project in Gujarat.
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. to achieve this goal, the fertilizer companies hence need to source neem oil for neem coating of fertilizers. The easy way was to import neem oil. However, Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd. (GNFC) has taken the lead in showing an empowering solution of sourcing neem oil rather than taking an easy way.
The empowering solution
GNFC took the task 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.
- Stop diversion of urea to chemical factories
- Make more urea available to farmers
- Reduce import and thereby save forex.
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.
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.
The seed collectors have benefitted from the price of 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.
- Transformation of daily wage earners into rural entrepreneurs.