“Most of the people in our community depend on seasonal agriculture labor work but FXB India Suraksha (FXBIS) has offered us a new and sustainable sources of income. FXBIS has motivated us to collect broom sticks and helped us develop area wise clusters of suppliers. I started our group with two suppliers and now there are 37 members in my cluster and all of them are earning well.” says Yellamalli Rani. Yellamalli takes care of the broom making cluster in Jallivari peta village, Amalapuram. Today she is proud to be an independent woman.
Amalapuram is located in East Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh. Situated on the East coast of India, the town is located in the agriculturally rich Konaseema delta, a triangle formed by the waters of the Godavari River. The delta’s black cotton soil is very fertile and crops including coconut and rice are grown in it. But as Yellamalli points out most of the inhabitants are dependent on agriculture and hence exposed to the fluctuations of the monsoon. The coastal region of Andhra Pradesh is also frequently affected by natural calamities like storms and excessive rain often destroying crops.
Being a resource rich area, FXBIS has developed a integrated programme of alternative income generation activities. The IGA is centered around the Broom and Agarbatti (incense stick) Making Units in Amalapuram. Both items are household goods with demand throughout the year. East Godavari basin being a hub of ancient temple sites, the extensive market for incense sticks is evident from the large number of individual entrepreneurs dealing in the raw product operating in the area. In order to ensure a wider market and increase returns, the FXBIS programme converted part of production into the final scented and packed Agarbatti. Similarly, brooms made out of coconut leaf sticks have a demand all over India.The Konaseema made coconut brooms are famous and exported to most of the states in North India from Hyderabad. Considering the abundance of coconut trees and already existing practice of collecting coco leaf sticks from coconut trees FXB India Suraksha (FXBIS) found that there is definite scope of initiating a coco leaves brooms making unit as a collective business activity, particularly for the local women. Both projects were developed in local unused premises as a common facility to conduct this activity and involved intensive skill development training for the interested women.
Having started with five interested women joining the agarbatti collective enterprise, after consulting the village key people and series of briefing meetings, the unit now produces on an average of 450 kg raw agarbatti every month and the women earn an average income of Rs.40,000 per month. The broom making unit expanded as a collective enterprise when the women collected the broom sticks and supplied them to the production unit instead of procuring them from private suppliers for higher price. It increased the number of participating families from 3 to 120 households.
The FXBIS team facilitated the broom making unit with 3 bulk buyers supplying to Hyderabad market, one of the largest and populous cities in peninsular India, thus ensuring a steady demand and market. At present it produces two types of brooms i.e. hi-tech and super tech model worth of Rs.50,000/- every month and members earn about Rs.1,500/- towards their wages per month. Additionally each member earns Rs.1,000/- towards profit which is saved in a collective bank account and shared proportionately every 6 months after allotting adequate sum for the business development of the unit.
The easy availability of raw material and favorable market conditions guarantees scope for expansion and thereby will continue to serve many local poor women as sustainable source of income for much longer period. It assures a life of dignity and better living standards for the women and their families.