Very soon, the nutritional need of the State will be met by Self Help Groups functioning in Jharkhand. The State government has planned to provide take home ration and ready to eat food at Anganwadi centres through SHGs.
At present there are around 39,000 anganwadis running across the State where ready to eat food for children and pregnant and lactating mothers is provided by private companies selected through tender process.
However, now the government has decided to give this work in the hands of Sakhi Mandals, who are being trained by Jharkhand State Livelihood Promotion Society (JSLPS) for the same. At present there are 2.17 lakh Sakhi Mandals in State with which over 28 lakh women are linked. An official of JSLPS informed, “The proposal has already been approved by the cabinet. At present the private companies are being paid to provide ready to eat food. The government plans to divert that money to the SHGs which will not just make the women empowered but also boost the economy of the State.” Initially, the women will start providing take home ration (THR) to the Anganwadis but in the future, the government plans to set up factories to manufacture ready to eat food as well, where SHG members would be roped in to work. “A list of food items has been prepared to be included in take home ration including potato, chickpea, groundnuts, pulses, rice, jaggery and more,” the official said.
District and block level workshops for SHG members are being organised to inform them about hygienic practices like cleaning and proper packaging of these food items before delivering them to the Anganwadis. “This is important because the food is for children and pregnant and lactating mothers and there should be no lacuna in packaging.”
The work of distribution of THR is likely to commence in October and will be done by village organizations. There are around 15,000 village organizations in the State who have each been tagged with 7 to 10 anganwadi centres. At places where the VOs do not exist, SHGs will function as nodal VOs and provide food directly to Anganwadis. In a video conference with deputy commissioners on Monday, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Sunil Kumar Barnwal directed the Dcs to ensure training of SHGs and opening their bank accounts for this purpose. "Identify all the SHGs in your districts who will provide food in anganwadi centres near them. This will help the rural population link with livelihood and increase their income," he said.
Another benefit of implementing this scheme would be a boost in the agriculture sector. As rice, pulses and potato are already grown by SHG women and groundnuts are also grown at some places, these products will now find an easy market.“When the farmers know that there is a fixed market for their produce and the government will buy it, they are likely to produce more crops which will help boost agriculture,” an official said.