Anjalatchi’s story: Disaster led to enterprise
My name is Anjalatchi and I am from a village called Keeliruppu in Cuddalore district of Tamilnadu. we are a family of 4 including my husband and 2 kids. We have 2 acres of land that is our main source of livelihood. When disaster struck late 2015 in Cuddalore, we lost our thatched-house, goats, poultry and our entire land. Everywhere we looked, we saw our village completely submerged and all the dead animals floating on water. We did not have food or water for a week and when we went to look for our land in a week, we saw 5-10 feet of sand accumulation and massive unevenness of land. It was as if part of the land was taken away and we lost all hopes of recovery.
Government officers came to visit but to no avail. When AID partner Inspire’s team came to visit, we wondered if they would also just act like the Government – just visit and go away. We were surprised when they stayed for a few days to visit all the village to get a good assessment of the situation. Within a couple of days, they called for a meeting of farmers and assured us that our land can be recovered and asked us not to lose hope. We decided to cooperate with the team and the Inspire team worked hard for over 70 hours to get our land back – we couldn’t believe our eyes when we saw our land back!
They taught us how to make the land cultivable again using Green manure seeds that could be plowed back again when grown. We also formed a farmers’ group and I was made a lead farmer and asked to lead the group. Through the producer company that was formed with 1000 farmers, we get to learn different farming methods, marketing techniques and also generally how to work together as a group.
In our land, we grow a ¼ acre of spinach varieties, a ¼ acre of vegetables using organic methods. In the other 1.5 acres, we grow crops such as paddy, sesame, urad dal in different seasons based on crop rotation patterns. We have seen at least a 60% increase in income overall.
Before this disaster, I was mainly focusing on the typical family responsibilities like many other women. The last 2 years have been a massive positive change for me personally. Being elected to be one of the board of directors for our producer company, I have started discharging those duties with confidence and humility. Many women have also come forward seeing my example and I am sure this will be a game changer for us in starting some small enterprises to general more employment in the village.