Economic and Empowerment Impacts of Millet Processing and Value
Addition Enterprises by Women SHGs in Tribal Areas of Odisha

Key Componentthe type of project or intervention

Engaging the poor in livelihood programs through women self-help groups (SHGs) is a widely used strategy by state governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in India. However, these projects have typically not been implemented in such a way as to facilitate a rigorous evaluation of their impacts. Given the societal and developmental importance of these livelihood initiatives, and given the significant public investments to support them, this knowledge gap is of great importance. The activities outlined in this proposal aim to fill this gap and provide some of the first rigorous evidence on the impact of a specific livelihood intervention. Specifically, our team, in cooperation with the Odisha Livelihoods Mission, is proposing a randomized evaluation of collective-based millet processing and value addition enterprises under Odisha Millets Mission (OMM) (www.milletsodisha.com), a flagship initiative of Government of Odisha and implemented in collaboration with WASSAN, local NGOs and community-based organisations.

Millets are an important crop in arid and semi-arid areas in India, typically tolerant to extreme weather and could be grown with low inputs in low rainfall areas. They are nutritionally superior to major cereals with respect to protein, energy, vitamins, and minerals. That’s why they are recognized as pro-poor and pro-nutrition in nature. They have been a staple crop for millions of farm households and is a highly nutritious source of food for the poor rural communities in the country. However, due to inadequate postharvest technologies for processing millets are considered as inferior food. Hence capacity building and skill up-gradation among farming communities, especially among farm women on postharvest millet processing and value addition technologies will play an important role in economic and empowerment impacts for tribal areas in Odisha. Traditionally, harvesting is done manually by women with traditional sickle. Threshing is usually done in open threshing floors leading to high levels of contamination. This affects the quality of the grains causing problems for the processor/traders, and as a result, occasionally leads to rejection or lesser price for the primary produces. With the introduction of labour-saving drudgery-reducing technology for postharvest operations of millet thresher, grader, destoner, dehullers, and personal protective equipment is emphasized to make these operations easier so that workload of women can be reduced.

The OMM programme has been implemented since 2017. The total budget of the OMM is 70 million USD (537 Cr INR) for 2017-2023 with a target of covering 5 million beneficiaries. One of the key components of the OMM is to promote millet enterprises through supporting women collectives for millet processing and value addition activities. The OMM model and intervention have been implemented and scaled up by Odisha Millet Mission without any rigorous evidence. Hence, we set up an RCT to rigorously evaluate this at-scale project. The key components of our millet processing and value addition enterprise are the following:
1) Technical support to postharvest and processing of millets;
2) Value addition through new product development;
3) Enterprise development support;
4) Gender-responsive training and capacity building;
5) Innovation and nutrition profiling and market linkage.