In 1999, when Bina joined Gujarat Rajya Mahila Sewa Sehkari Sangh Limited (GRMSSSL), a cooperative aligned to SEWA, as a saleswoman along with Usha, they had never imagined the kind of hostile reception they would get. Theirs was the only women cooperative in the 300-strong commission (Aadhti) shops in Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC).
People would throw tomatoes at them. They would taunt them, “this is not your job. Ghar Jaake chapatti banao (go home and cook food).” They would write on their walls ‘Behnon se savdhan (beware of sisters).” Though their shop was next to a gate, they would tell customers through gestures not to visit them.
But since then things have turned for better. Taunts and warnings have subsided. There is grudging acceptance that bens (sisters) are here for good now. Now there is a constant stream of visitors at the GRMSSSL to buy gourd (ghiya), ridge gourd (turai), bitter gourd (karela), mint (pudinaa) and other vegetables because the cooperative charges less than the other commission agents. “We charge at least Rs 10 less on 20 kilogram of vegetable. We are the cheapest of them all,” Beena proudly declares. A big number of customers and farmers have become members of the cooperative. The customers buy vegetables from the GRMSSSL and sell on the roadside earning a handsome profit in the process. The farmers on the other hand get better prices for their produce as GRMSSSL charges 4 per cent less commission than other agents.
Visit the shop any time between 7 AM and 4 PM and you can see Bina buying and selling bundles of vegetables, weighing them on the electronic weighing platform scale and disbursing receipts for the same. She has greatly benefited from her salary of Rs 8,000 per month. Her only daughter is enrolled in engineering while the two sons are studying in good schools. In short life is all hunky dory for her.
Bahraich is an agriculture-based district and most of the population practices agriculture for their livelihood. Hence, the District Administration of Bahraich initiated the project to tackle and deal with the...
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