K M Dayashankar
KARIMNAGAR: Women self-help group members in Gangadhara mandal have emerged as role models in using the solar dryer unit for manufacturing value-added farm products and earning profits.
Inspired by the training provided on the solar dryers by the DRDO and Krishi Vignan Kendra, women SHG members of the village have decided to take up an employment generation avenue. Accordingly, they approached the ATMA (Agriculture Technology and Management Agency) and secured the solar dryer through subsidy.
The speciality of the solar dryer is that it would dry vegetables, leaves and spices while retaining their nutrients. They started drying the drumstick leaves, curry leaves and gorintaku (mehendi) leaves. The leaves were kept under the solar dryer tray for one day and later made into powder and packed to sell in the market. Later, they started making powders with lemon pieces, oranges and other beauty products.
Initially, they faced hardships in marketing their products of drumsticks and curry leaves etc. Thanks to the support of the district administration, they were participating in various exhibitions and their products have become a runaway hit. As the people realised the importance of consuming drumsticks and curry leaves, there was heavy demand for their produce.
Sri Sai Food Security association president Merugu Ganga Bhavani runs the SHG with 10 members. The group members are earning Rs 6,500 per week after removing all expenses in the making of the powder packets. Ganga Bhavani said that the products have high nutritional values and there was heavy demand from all sections of society and assured to increase their business activities.
ATMA project director N Priyadarshini said that they had provided solar dryers under the subsidy-based programme for the economic empowerment of the women SHG members and also to enhance the shelf life of vegetable products. The solar dryer has won accolades for storage of the vegetables and fruits for a longer period without losing its nutritional values, she said and assured to take measures for the promotion of the products made by the women SHGs.