Mathiben Devkorbhai Sanghani: Mahakali Salt Farmer Cooperative (India)
Woman Farmer: Mathiben Devkorbhai Sanghani
Woman Farmer Group: MahakaliMithaUtapadakSahakariMandli (Mahakali salt farmer cooperative)
National FO Affiliation/Membership: Self Employed Women’s Association
Organisation Involved in the Case: Surendranagar Mahilaane Bal Vikas Mandal, Surendranagar
Location/region: Little Run of Kutch
Initially, the salt farms business was not very profitable. The laborers didn’t have enough money to fund the production themselves and hence they used to resort to moneylenders. These moneylenders used to exploit their power and sign a contract with the laborers regarding the production and would fix a rate way below the market price.
The moneylenders charged Mathiben Rs.80 per metric tonne of salt, while the market price for the same was Rs.120.
Few years back when SEWA studied this situation better and understood the exploitation the sisters were facing, they took it up on them to educate the sisters. Going right to the basics, they explained the sisters about two types of salts, one for consumption and the other for industry use. It taught them that industrial salt is way more beneficial and also gave trainings about how to go about with producing more salt at lesser cost. It also eased the situation between the moneylenders and the laborers, by increasing the supplier power and giving some amount of individuality to the latter as well. Now the sisters were re puppets of the lenders, they had their own say in the contract and got the courage to command a fair price for the produce. These trainings imparted by the SEWA officials improved the conditions of the sisters to a huge extent.
From all the meetings attended with SEWA and trainings taken, Mathiben got to know about solar pumps. She bought one for her own field and yet shines bright with happiness on the good it has done to her. She’d never thought she would use a technology so advanced in her fields and that literate people would come to her to understand the use and benefits of the solar pump.
She said, now she needs just 100 litres of diesel against 150 litres and also saves on one entire traditional pump machine. She took a loan of Rs.1,90,000 from SEWA for the same that is now paid in entirety. Continuing to talk about the relief and happiness she finally has in her life with everything going right she said, “Kone khabar hati ki surya pan paani kaadhi sake.” (Translation: “Who knew that the sun also could extract water.”)
To support Mathiben and other salt farmers in bringing solar water pump to fetch in land water for salt farming, which works day and night and consumes high amount of diesel
- By using Solar pump diesel expenses has been decrease and farmers have to use diesel in the night time only. So saving in expense is indirectly profit.
- 600 solar pumps have been provided to the farmers.
Challenges and Lessons Learned:
- Farmers wish to adopt new technologies but they are not able to avail knowledge by their own and equipment are very costly so without loan it becomes difficult for them to dream for the change in life. Since the salt farmers do not own the salt pans, banks normally do not even provide them with loans; soft loans should be given to salt workers.
- Knowledge sharing, confidence and financial support helps to take any risk.
- passion to change situation of life
- faith in SEWA and adopting new technology
Farmers can gradually come out of vicious circle of debt and poverty and they can become role model for other farmers