Success Story: Mint farming and women’s empowerment in India: Meet Lajjawati

NOTE: This Success story was compiled in early January 2020 before COVID-19 restrictions were put in place. Beginning in February of 2020, Tanager paused the collection of Success Stories for the safety of our project participants and staff, and in accordance with all government mandated restrictions.

Lajjawati is a smallholder farmer from Barabanki in Uttar Pradesh, India who has overcome enormous personal and professional adversity on her journey to prosperity. When Lajjawati’s husband was killed in an accident, she was left caring for her small family farm – and her eight children – alone. Her economic situation was made worse by the pervasive problem of gender inequality in India.

Women are often not allowed to venture outside the home, not given equal say in decision making processes at the community level, and don’t view themselves as farmers or businesswomen. Not only does this have a negative effect on women’s self esteem, gender inequality also drives down economic growth. As the United Nations identified in the linked study, gender equality is a key driver of economic growth in rural areas, and women have enormous economic potential if they are enfranchised socially and economically.

Increasing social and economic mobility for women is a key outcome in Tanager’s co-created Shubh Mint project. Lajjawati engaged with Shubh Mint in various ways. She learned GAP practices to increase her yield of mint – earning Rs 64,000.  Most importantly for her confidence, she participated in Self Help Group training. Tanager brings small community groups of women together into Self Help Groups where women learn from each other about better farming techniques, women’s rights, financial literacy, nutrition, and sanitation.

With Tanager’s help, Lajjawati also accessed government programs designed to help farmers. One of these programs – Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojna loan program – allowed Lajjawati to invest a small but vital amount of money towards the upkeep of her farm. Thanks to Lajjawati’s positive attitude and Tanager’s expertise, Lajjawati has increased her income, learned valuable farming and financial literacy skills, and is approaching life with a newfound sense of confidence.