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Nuvoco Vistas Uplifts Rural Communities Through Entrepreneurial Activities and Healthcare

In India, farming has a long history, and millions of people heavily rely on it for their survival. Being the second-largest agricultural producer in the world, more than 60% of the country’s citizens depend on agricultural activities for their livelihood. 

However, in recent times, the agriculture sector made headlines for all the wrong reasons. This includes farmers giving up farming and the industry becoming a recurring loss-making venture, among others. This is compounded by the fact that farmers are unaware of improved agricultural practices and farm-allied opportunities to enhance their income. 

Furthermore, there are very few practices of forming farmer groups for sourcing inputs or for selling outputs at a scale to achieve higher margins.

Not just agriculture

For the people living in these remote areas, life is not the same as their counterparts in urban areas. 

Apart from struggling to earn through agriculture, they have also been plagued by the absence of robust health infrastructure and services. This has mostly affected the health conditions of women and children. 

To improve the situation, the Government of India launched Anganwadis, developed under the Integrated Child Development Services Scheme (ICDS). At the village level, these are the first contact points for basic healthcare. The Anganwadi workers are trained to shape the early years of a child’s life and provide nutrition and education for mothers. 

Implemented in 1975, most of the Anganwadis across the country lack proper infrastructure and support to carry out their objective of providing basic health care, especially to women and children.

Apart from this, Primary Healthcare Centers (PHCs) are first-access points for medical treatment. Across India, there are over 24,000 PHCs. However, even here, women and children are unable to receive quality care.

 





Intervention for agriculture 

Understanding the shortcomings faced by people living in rural areas, Nuvoco Vistas Corporation Ltd, India’s fifth largest cement player decided to step in and help. Nuvoco Vistas aimed to improve the overall quality of life for farmers, women, and children. 

First, they focussed on enhancing the income opportunities for local communities by engaging them in improved agricultural practices, farm allied activities, and establishing community-based enterprises. 

In 2017, the company launched Project Samriddhi to enhance income opportunities for farmers. 

Skill development programs for women under Project Samriddhi 

Farmers were educated about new agricultural practices and high-value crops that can enhance output. They were also introduced to farm-allied activities like mushroom production, fishery, poultry, goat farming, and more. Additionally, Nuvoco Vistas helped the community in forming farmer groups to scale both input procurement and selling output.

Launched near the Mejia Cement Plant, over 1000 farmers were impacted by this initiative. Here are some of the benefits farmers received: 

  • Increased agricultural output by 20 - 30 %. 
  • Additional income to women farmers from farm allied activities. 
  • Formation of farmer producer companies to enable them to achieve economies of scale. 
  • Farmers' collective entering into the agri-business domain, thereby eliminating middlemen and increasing their profit margins.
  • Namita Mondal, a resident of Radhakrishnapur village in Bankura was one of the beneficiaries of the initiative. After running out of options to earn an additional income, she says that Project Samriddhi was a boon for her family. 

    She says, “ The mushroom cultivation program made it possible for me to earn an additional income. Not just me, other farmers like me who were afraid to try new things got support from this initiative. Today, I am happy that I can contribute to my family earnings, and additionally, I have gained the self-confidence to do things on my own and not depend on others.” 

    Intervention for Healthcare

    The following year, in 2018, after seeing success in their agriculture interventions, the company launched another initiative called Project Tara – Technology Aided Resources at Anganwadis. This initiative aimed to improve the quality of health and child development services provided by the Anganwadis.

    Training being provided under Project Tara

    Under this program, some of the steps taken were – 

  • Upgrading the infrastructure of Anganwadis with minor repairs and paintings to create more appealing and welcoming spaces. 
  • Provision of essential items for children like indoor toys, study tables, floor mats, solar fans, utensils for mid-day meals, etc. 
  • Introducing AnteNatal Checkup Kits. 
  • Training Anganwadi Workers (AWW), ASHA Workers, and ANMs on the use of ANC Kits and recording test results regularly. 
  • Identifying high-risk pregnancy cases and referring them to proper treatment.
  • Addressing the needs of adolescent girls through specialized health camps and promoting the use of sanitary napkins.
  • The above interventions were carried out in villages surrounding Nuvoco Vistas’ Chittor Cement Plant. To date, the program has benefitted more than 1200 women and 2000 adolescent girls. 

    In addition to the aforementioned projects, Nuvoco Vistas also runs several livelihood programmes and skill-building activities. 

    The organization is dedicated to the growth of the neighborhoods surrounding its enterprises and it strives to raise everyone's standard of living near its cement factories. 

    Author

    Roshini Muthukumar

    Roshini Muthukumar, a native of Chennai, started her career as a content writer but made a switch to journalism to pursue her passion. She has experience writing about human interest stories, innovative technology, entrepreneurs, research blogs, and more. Previously, Roshini has done internships with The Hindu, Metroplus and worked as a correspondent with The Better India.