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

Theory of changeIntended and unintended outcomes from the project/intervention.

The impact pathway and planned theory of change of our project are presented The key question we will ask is: Does millet processing improve:
(a) household income (especially among women),
(b) women’s empowerment and contributions to household decision making,
(c) household health, education, and nutrition outcomes?

The impact pathway diagram links actual needs to programmatic inputs, expected outputs, outcomes, and long-term impacts. The principal problem is the existing gender gap in entrepreneurship and lack of quality employment for women. This creates the need for a woman-focused and group-based microenterprise. The millet processing intervention with the SHGs aims to increase business volume to make the enterprise viable for many value chain actors. This integrated microenterprise may have a significant contribution to household income, as preliminary findings show a net annual income from such enterprise is about Rs 20,000 - 40,000. This approach not only uses women’s time effectively but also provides women control over income that can influence decision making in the household. Moreover, this enterprise helps women remain in the home rather than being involved in crop production or pursuing wage employment, which can impact children’s health, education, and nutrition. Overall this innovative approach may result in a positive effect on household income and other welfare indicators, as well as improving overall food security and nutrition in the household.

We first consider the impact pathway where participation in SHGs may increase women’s access to credit that may be used in productive activities, including millet processing. This productive investment not only can help a household smooth its consumption over time, but it also can increase household income. The collective actions from both the SHGs and the millet processing enterprises, along with women’s control over income, can increase women’s empowerment that may interact with other impact pathways. SHGs can impact women's empowerment through creating social capital and millet processing can increase women’s decision-making in the household through their control over income. Women empowerment pathways also may have a positive impact on child health, education, and nutrition.

There are several explicit assumptions that underlie the various links in our envisioned impact pathway. First, we assume that the Odisha Millets Mission will continue to receive government support for millet processing machinery. Currently, the initiative receives 1 to 2 units (grader +destoner+ dehuller) per block. The initiative also received 10 to 15 thresher units. Since the millet processing machinery has already been approved by the government, we do not think this assumption is particularly risk-laden. Second, we assume that the women of SHGs will have sufficient demand and will understand the complexity of millet processing and value addition technologies. This ensures that farmers will develop their skills which will translate into investment and entrepreneurial quality. This, essentially, is the link between outputs and outcomes. As mentioned previously, participants will be engaged in millet processing and value addition training, and evaluations of these training demonstrate a fairly comprehensive understanding of millet processing and value addition. Third, we assume that the research team will be able to maintain a productive working relationship with partners and stakeholders. This, ultimately, is important for the successful implementation of the millet processing and value addition intervention. The research team has considerable experience in working with several of the project partners and stakeholders, and we expect to be able to maintain these relationships in a mutually beneficial fashion throughout the duration of this project. Finally, we assume that there will be a conducive environment for market and industry linkages. A strong market and industry demand will help the processing enterprises to scale up. This may sound a strong assumption, but the initial project studies find a strong interest not only from Indian food-product companies such as Britannia Industries but also from public distribution systems. It is also important to mention that market value chain may have impacted by the COVID-19 situation.

We do not envision significant unintended outcomes/ consequences of the promotion of millet processing enterprises. One possibility is that some internal group level conflict in SHG may affect millet processing and value addition activities for an SHG. But since we have set the criteria of being operational for more than three years for an SHG to be part of a treatment arm we do not envision such instances.