Consortium for and by women in J&K

SEEDS stands for Sustainable Eco Enterprise Development Solutions. It is founded with a vision of economic and ecological development of the state of Jammu & Kashmir through sustainable economic activities. SEEDS and Women on Wings are partners in a consortium which is initiated by The Netherlands Embassy in India to stop inequalities and fight domestic violence against vulnerable women in India.

Developing sustainable livelihood for women farmers
SEEDS voluntarily supports local NGOs and social activists for the promotion of crafts, agriculture and allied activities, with youth and women engagement at the heart of all its endeavors. SEEDS and Women on Wings found a common objective of development of sustainable livelihood for women farmers in Kashmir.

Cultivating veggies and fruits
The collaboration started in January 2021, and despite the challenges faced on ground due to the COVID-19 pandemic, SEEDS has been able to establish a small cluster of 55 women farmers, spread across three neighboring villages: Panzran, Tumlhal and Bandzoa. The women focus on the cultivation of mushrooms, strawberries, rajma (kidney bean), garlic, red chili, and the drying of vegetables for sale in the local market. The seeds that had been sown earlier this year are growing strong. Harvesting of garlic has begun and the rest will follow soon. SEEDS is supporting the women with training and capacity building programs. Women on Wings is providing mentorship and business consultancy to the management of SEEDS on how to plug the existing gaps and build a long term sustainable business.

Establishing women resource center
A women resource center / center of excellence for training of women farmers has been established by SEEDS in Tumlhal, one of the three villages. The small village with 251 households was selected due to its location, larger number of interested beneficiaries and support from village elders. One of the topics the women farmers were introduced to was the concept of organic farming and its benefits. The women were also taken on a visit to Asia’s largest tulip garden for exposing them to another potential of growing flowers for livelihood. The exposure visit was also fun and empowering. Most of the women had never had the opportunity before to visit the scenic landscape full of flowers, due to economic or socio conditions.

The consortium
Social enterprise SEEDS from Jammu & Kashmir, development organization PRIA from Delhi and Women on Wings were invited in the summer of 2020 by The Netherlands Embassy in New Delhi to explore partnering in a consortium on women’s empowerment to address the social and economic challenges faced by women and develop strategies and activities designed in light of fighting inequalities and ultimately stop violence against women. The three consortium partners share the believe that empowering women is one of the answers to stop inequalities and sustainably reclaim space to women. Obviously, raising awareness among boys and men is as important. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, activities that had to be done with women on ground, were postponed but are now gradually being resumed.