Case Studies

Kalso Bai, Phoolwati Bai and Sukriti Chautele are poor landless tribal women in Madhya Pradesh. For years, they were dependent on backbreaking and often scarce work in the local sandmines or as daily wage agricultural labourers in neighbouring districts. Their children did without basic necessities such as adequate food, clothing and education. Today they run their own successful small poultry enterprises. They have life insurance policies, savings accounts and are able to send their children to school. They have taken and paid back loans from their self-help groups and local banks. How did they do this?

Kalso Bai
Phoolwati Bai

Sukriti Chautele


Kalso Bai

Kalso Bai lives with her husband and two children in the largely tribal Borkheda village in Madhya Pradesh. For years, she supported her family by loading sacks of sand onto trucks that were headed to construction sites in cities. At the end of a backbreaking day, she would get little more than ₹15. During the harvest season, husband and wife would leave the children behind and go out in search of work to large farms in neighbouring districts, harvesting wheat and soybean. In the absence of a regular income, she took loans from the local moneylender at interest rates of 10 per cent a month.

In the year 2000, Kalso Bai joined a women’s self-help group (SHG) in her village. She took small loans from the SHG to meet everyday needs, but was still not able to buy a full meal, school uniforms or books for her children. In 2001, her SHG took a loan of ₹250,000 under the Swaranjayanti Gram Swarojgar Yojana self-employment scheme of the government. With her share of this loan, Kalso Bai built a poultry shed on her homestead that could house 400 birds; 10 other members also started poultry. She underwent training on poultry rearing from PRADAN, and started a successful poultry business; in three years, her group repaid the loan in full.

In 2007 Kalso Bai used ₹7,000 from her savings and took a loan of ₹16,000 to build another poultry shed of 400 birds. She was soon able to get both her children admitted to the local school, and pay for their books, fees and uniforms. Gradually, she built a larger home by spending ₹50,000, much of which came from the profits of her poultry business. She now has two Life Insurance Policies, for which she pays a premium of ₹500 every month.

In 2010-11, Kalso Bai produced 7,307 kg of live birds, which earned her a net income of ₹43,037. She now plans to expand her poultry production further.
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Phoolwati Bai

Phoolwati Bai

Phoolwati Bai lives with her husband and six sons on a small plot of land allotted to them by the government in Mandipura village, Madhya Pradesh. Till 1998, her only regular source of income was from loading sand at the local sandmines, for which she earned ₹15 on a good day. Desperate for work, Phoolwati Bai and her husband often left their sons alone and migrated to neighboring districts in search of wage labour in the harvest season. The best year was when her husband worked in Itarsi as a daily wage labourer and earned ₹1,000 per month. Yet, with six sons to raise, even this money did not go far.

In 1997 Phoolwati started poultry farming. She earned ₹1,500 from her first batch of chicks. As her income began to rise, she took a loan of ₹19,000 from her SHG to repair her house. She was able to repay that loan in a short time using her profits from rearing broilers.

In 2005 Phoolwati and her husband took a loan of ₹30,000 from their local bank under the Prime Minister’s Rozgaar Yojana to expand their poultry sheds. She has been able to repay the instalments regularly. Today, neither Phoolwati nor her husband needs to travel as wage labourers. She deposits a premium of ₹883 biannually in Life Insurance policies and has a savings account for emergencies. With a net income of over ₹41,000 in 2010, the family finally has some financial security.
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Sukriti Chautele

Sukriti Chautele

"Chicken changed my life," says Sukriti Chautele, of Peera village in Madhya Pradesh.

Twelve years ago, just as Sukriti’s son was born, her husband deserted her. With no means of income and an infant to care for, Sukriti moved to her parents’ home. Her parents had only a small piece of land on which they grew wheat, urad, gram, mustard and soybean for their own consumption. Her four brothers worked as agricultural labourers and construction workers in nearby towns. Sukriti started making bamboo baskets to supplement the family income, but could hardly meet her own expenses. In 2006 she joined a Common Interest Group on poultry facilitated by PRADAN, working with the Madhya Pradesh District Poverty Initiative Project (MPDPIP). Sukriti went with four other women to Kesla for a two-day training on poultry rearing, organised by the Kesla Poultry Society. She learnt the basics of running a broiler poultry enterprise and poultry management practices, including the construction of sheds. The women were then linked to the MPDPIP, where they each got a grant of ₹30,000 for constructing a 300 sq ft poultry shed. Soon after, 360 women from 13 villages federated to form a cooperative called the Rajnagar Grameen Mahila Murgi Utpadak Sahkarita Maryadit, of which Sukriti is today a board member.

After the formation of the cooperative, the members started poultry farming, each rearing 300 day-old chicks. “We were happy with the returns and are confident to invest more money to expand our business,” says Sukriti. While the poultry producers meet every week to discuss specific issues, the Governing Board of the cooperative meets on the eighth of every month at the cooperative office in Bamitha, four kilometers away from Peera village. The selected representatives of the 13 villages that comprise the Governing Board discuss the functioning of the cooperative and poultry production, in addition to taking collective decisions on further up-scaling their business.

“I go to the samiti office after the sale of each batch of birds, cross check the records and collect my payment,” she says. Other poultry rearers also regularly visit the project office to check and clear their accounts. “The procuring of chicks and selling of broiler birds is best done collectively; this also relieves us from these tasks allowing us to focus on production. When the birds are ready for sale, the cooperative arranges the best deal for us by speaking to various vendors. The vendors come to our village to pick up the birds, which are weighed in front of us and in the presence of the village supervisor, who in turn updates the records of each poultry rearer.”

“Earlier I used to make ₹1,200-1,500 by rearing and selling a batch of 300 birds; now I rear 500 birds in each batch and earn ₹2,000-2,200 a month. I am not a burden on my family and can send my son to school," she says.
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