When sweet oranges fall premature from the trees, they could be regarded as waste. However, for Lakshmi Devi and Anjanama the little brown balls are a sustainable source of additional income for their families. They happily shared how collecting the oranges positively impacts their lives.
Hesperidin source for medicine
Lakshmi Devi (in pink saree) and Anjanama (in blue saree) were interviewed by Ineke Bezembinder, Communication and Office Manager at Women on Wings, during Grameena Vikas Kendram’s (GVK) annual meet 2019 earlier this year. The Women on Wings partner runs a number of innovative projects that include organic cotton, water and soil conservation. Also, GVK creates opportunity for horticultural labour and marginalized farmers to earn extra income by collection, processing and sale of premature fallen sweet oranges that otherwise go as waste. A naturally occurring bioflavonoid called ‘Hesperidin’ is present in these dropped fruits which has value in pharmaceutical industry.
Working for educating grandchildren
Said Lakshmi: “First I was scared that the thorns of bushes in the orchard would hurt me. But I learned how to collect the oranges without getting hurt. Now I am so happy that I do this work. It brings additional income to my family. During the season, I come to the orchard every day. I feel proud that I earn money and could pay back our loans. My two children are doing well, my daughter works at the police department.” Like any mother, Lakshmi beams with pride when she talks about her adult children. “Now I dream my grandchildren stay healthy and can study. We have no land of our own so there is not much I can give them. But I can give them education. I want my grandchildren to do well in life and that they become whatever they want. I have no more sorrows!”
Love talking to other women
Anjanama is also happy that she earns an income. It increased her self-esteem and she enjoys the social aspect. Just like Lakshmi, Anjanama is not sure about her own age. Both women giggle when asking about their age. Said Anjanama: “I got married when I must have been seventeen. But I’m not sure. Also, I don’t know how long I’ve been married. But I do know that I’m going to be a dadi (grandmom) soon.” Her own parents were farming laborers and so is her husband. Anjanama lives a happy life. “Before I started working, I did not leave the house much. But now we have a reason to go out and talk to other women while working which I find very enriching,” Anjanama added.
Increasing family income
Looking brown and small from the outside, in the inside however a beautiful source for medicine. Women collect and process premature fallen sweet oranges in the orchards, providing them a regular additional income during two seasons per year. These oranges contain Hesperidin, a bioflavonoid, which is a source for medicines. By enrolling the women into collecting and processing of waste fruits, GVK has already increased the farmers’ annual income by 15 to 20%.