Monday, September 12, 2011

Income generation as part of Public Health

IGP or Income Generation Programme is a common terminology used in the development sector. Development of new IGP have always been seen a focus point for Development Organisations in bringing about financial and social upliftment of communities. Some of the famous examples are Amul (the milk products giant in India), NOGA (Nagpur Orange Growers Association, apple cultivation in Himachal Pradesh, Lijjat Pappad etc.

The area where we are has a dearth of innovative options of income generation for the communities around. The drought over the last 3 years has brought about a dire need to look into options of alternate income generation. Migration of unskilled labour to the irrigated parts of the country was the major source of livelihood. There have been a lot of groundwork which has gone in over the last year within our Community Health Department along with various stakeholders in our community. Need for skill training and options of alternate sources or income were identified as possible solutions for the poverty in the communities.

After much deliberations, we identified mushroom cultivation and poultry as 2 options which we could explore. Poultry was a bit more resource intensive and with the recent findings in health with relation to climate change, it does not seem a wise choice for introduction into our communities. Mushroom cultivation was the automatic choice. Couple of our staff had earlier experience of the same and we sent one person for training to Allahabad Agricultural University.

About 2 months back, we have started to develop a demonstration plot for mushroom cultivation in one of the old garages within the campus. The first lot did not turn up at all. The high temperatures were given the blame. However, the team did not give up. They came up with a more traditional technique which has yielded results. We have taken a small step forward in faith. I pray that our efforts will bear more fruit and we will be able to convince various groups of people in our communities to adopt mushroom cultivation for income and nutrition.


In addition to mushroom cultivation, our Community Health team has also taken up the challenge to promote other IGPs like local manufacturing of papad, masala powder, soap, detergents etc. Couple of training programmes have already been conducted. However, we've decided to give a priority for a food product as nutrition of communities is matter of grave concern. And mushrooms score quite high for the amount of proteins and nutrients it has. Of course, there is a problem with transport for marketting - however, that would encourage more local consumption - that is the assumption.

Our vision is for the transformation of communities. It does not need much logic to disprove that managing a 100 bedded hospital would bring transformation within communities. Education, Income Generation Programmes, and Vocational Training have been identified as the major development needs in this place.

After the experiment with mushrooms and the other IGPs, I would explore the option of developing community college concept for vocational training in our campus. Our engineer is quite confident of developing courses in welding and electrical repair. We look at ideas and options on how we can participate in the transformation of our surrounding communities. However, we need your prayers as we plan.

1 comment:

  1. Hooray!

    Go for it dear friends! We had tried silk spinning and weaving a decade ago - but these options look a lot better!

    Challenge is in the marketing - getting the products out for a real price while not hiding the costs in our staff overheads!