Vocational Training in honey production and rabbit rearing provide a great source of income for women in Tamil Nadu, India. The Centre for the Development of Rural Women (CDRW) in Tamil Nadu, India, are Tzedek’s long-standing partner. They train 30 women in rabbit rearing and honey production. The women’s income is forecast to increase to £41 a month. As a sustainable project, new beneficiaries will be introduced to the project every year.
In Tamil Nadu, southern India, young, tribal widows living in the hills struggle to earn money as local sources of income are scarce. The only jobs available are as workers in fields or as housemaids. These jobs are often seasonal and not available every day. The young widows are extremely poor, earning a maximum of 100 Rupees per day (£1.10 per day) on the days they can find work. With incomes at this level, the widows cannot afford healthcare, school fees or decent food and clothes for their children.
Tzedek is working with long-standing partner CDRW in training 30 widows in either beekeeping or rabbit rearing. Through a two-day training programme, CDRW is teaching the women to make burrows, raise rabbits, prepare beehives and harvest honey. The women will then receive bees or the money to buy rabbits, as well as funds to buy other necessary equipment. The women will then be able to sell rabbit meat or honey in local markets and hotels in the surrounding areas. There is a strong demand for these products. Rabbit meat is considered to be healthy, and the local market is growing. The project’s cost to Tzedek is £3,958 for one year.
By providing women with the skills and resources to produce honey and raise rabbits, their income is expected to increase from 2,000 Rupees per month (£22) to, on average, 3,750 Rupees (£42). As a result, the women will gain economic independence and will be able to afford healthcare and schooling for their children. They will also have enough food to eat and clothes to wear. Beyond the financial benefits, the new skills that the women will have gained will help to improve their self-confidence.
The project is also sustainable. After 12 months, the women will donate some of their bee-hives and rabbits to 30 additional widows, bringing benefit to more women in Tamil Nadu.
We are a few months into this project and are already receiving some fantastic success stories of its positive impact.
Mrs Durga is a single mother of two children. Before this project, she used to cultivate vegetables and paddy (rice). She was paid two bags of paddy every year and 120 Rupees (£1.35) for the days she worked. Mrs Durga joined Tzedek & CDRW’s project and started producing honey. She says there is a huge demand for honey in the hill areas and has recently bought two more hives, in addition to her original five hives. Mrs Durga has collected 7 litres of honey each month since September 2018. She has also planted new flowers, plants and vegetables. This has increased the bees’ ability to collect nectar and provides produce for Mrs Durga to sell at the market for additional income. Mrs Durga has stopped working in the fields for a minimal wage. She is now paying back her debts to the private money lender. She is now able to cook nutritious vegetables for her children and buy clothes for local festivals.
Mrs Durga has plans for the future. She intends to run a shop that will sell the honey of all the beneficiaries. The CDRW team believe she has the potential to become a leader of this community and an entrepreneur who will go on to employ women and continue the long-term sustainability of this project.