Annual Report 2015: Capacity building

Women Farmers Become Entrepreneurs as Tulsi Value Chain Expands 

In yards across the Himalayas, families often grow ‘tulsi’, or holy basil, for its spiritual significance. But tulsi, which also makes a tasty herbal tea, is also becoming a viable cash crop for small farmers, particularly women.

ICIMOD’s work in India to develop the value chain for tulsi made notable strides this year as farmers moved beyond basic production and enhanced their capacities in product improvement and marketing, which meant more profit for rural women. 

For instance, when growers sell the whole tulsi plant, much of it has to be discarded by middlemen, who also have processing costs. But if they pluck the leaves beforehand and dry them on a net, one of this year’s improvements, the product is ready for packaging, spoilage is reduced, and colour and quality are retained. 

In the end, women farmers take home more of the money, landless women earn a living processing the tulsi, and unused land where monkeys used to damage rice crops is being cultivated for tulsi, which animals don’t destroy.

Women’s cooperatives in the project have also built their own business plans, improved internal governance, and developed marketing strategies – and in process, are evolving from small farmers into entrepreneurs.

 10,000 INR women can earn every  three months (USD 150)

 200 packets of ‘Switch On’  tea recently sent to France