Defying all odds and rising like a phoenix – Sajoni Ray
Carved out of the foothills of the Himalayas, Chirang boasts scenic landscapes, exotic tribes, meandering rivers and rich wildlife. The name ‘Chirang’ is a Garo word that means water wealth, as ‘chi’ means water and ‘rang’ symbolizes wealth. Cradled in deep forest and vast stretches of agricultural land, the life in Chirang is quite distinctive.
In Borobazar, one of the three blocks in Chirang lives Sajoni Ray. A farmer by experience and a resilient woman by choice.
Sajoni Ray started farming at an early age. Her husband, Tajen Ray works as a daily wage labourer. He also indulges in making furniture. Sajoni soon after her marriage juggled between farming, household activities, animal husbandry and other activities that could generate income for her family.
She had no choice but to break her sweat all day long as she had hit rock bottom. It all happened 12 years ago when a conflict broke out between the tribes. Many innocent people like Sajoni lost their landholdings and their houses were burnt to ash.
As the popular saying goes ‘when you hit rock bottom the only way is to go up‘ Sajoni farmed on leased portions of land for several years. She managed to build a new house and with her perseverance, she assured her kids a safe future.
She cultivates okra, bridge ground and other vegetables in her small patch of land. Along with that, there are areca palms in her fields from which she earns an income of 25k annually.
Until the harvest season, she engages in animal husbandry to create additional revenue. She is now raising 100 Kuroiler chickens, 3 cows and 10 goats. Her day starts feeding and rearing them. She sells the milk to the local milkmen and sells the goats for meat when they mature. She buys the goatling for Rs 1500 and after a year or two sells it for 15-20k. Animal husbandry is a vital livelihood option in rural areas. Our Social investors have enabled a lot of rural-preneurs to engage in livestock farming.
A farmer in Chirang can’t entirely depend on his harvest. There are numerous factors in play that put their life into uncertainty. As Borpathar is adjacent to Manas national park, human-animal conflict creates a lot of difficulties. When the harvest is ripe and ready to be sold, wild elephants and boars destroy the entire field. Farmer who work hard for several months often wake up to the ruins of their farms.
But these challenges were the ones which they could foresee and take preventive measures for. The pandemic, on the other hand, was something that caught them completely off guard.
Sajoni couldn’t sell her harvest in the market. There were no buyers for her produce. With the lockdown, the prices were slashed to a rate that didn’t assure any profit for the farmers. Their hopes entirely shifted to the next season. But to even begin the Kharif crop farmers needed a loan. The moneylenders were not a viable option, the profits from the season would reduce significantly due to the high-interest rates.
That’s when Rang De Social Investors relieved the perils of Sajoni. She took an interest-free loan of Rs 20,000 from Rang De out of which she used 16,900 for ploughing, machinery, fertilizers and seeds. The rest of the amount she used as expenditures for her daily needs. She made a total income of 30,500 at the end of the season and completely repaid the loan she took.
This shows how crucial easy and affordable credit is. Our farmers could manage their own needs and sustain themselves independently. But they are often exploited and taken advantage of. Sajoni Ray now is trying to diversify her livelihood option with whatever means available.
Her husband wishes to open a small shop, he is worried about his old age but wants to provide for his family. Sajoni meanwhile, engages in different community activities, she is the director of a farmers company named Sangamitra Mahila farmer’s producers company.
Our Impact partner Seven Sisters development assistance has created a substantial impact in the backward and tribal areas of the North East. They have provided an effective platform to empower women and ensure sustainability. They facilitate training camps, services and capacity building. We at Rang De are proud of the value they create in the community.
Sajoni’s story signifies the impact of social investment and how we all can make a difference.
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