Pokkali Harvesting: Strategic Involvement of Athey Nallatha

“Some involvements and interventions are said to create revolutions and in-turn a history is created”

It is estimated that the rice area of Kerala has dropped by 60% between 1975 and 2003. Land degradation in Kerala means the reduction of the biological or economic productivity of cropland, pasture, forest, and woodlands of which soil degradation is the major contributor. The UN post-disaster need assessment report has estimated a total economic loss of Rs.31, 000 crores in Kerala due to two floods.  Agricultural sector (Rs 3646 crores), fisheries (Rs 93.72 crores), forestry (Rs 9.55 crores), infrastructure, power, housing and tourism sector (Rs 2000 crores) also suffered economic losses post-flood in Kerala. Agriculture has been undergoing rapid degradation for the past several years due to multiple factors. The flood has worsened the situation. Even after the floods, the agricultural lands were being converted into flats and buildings, marking the destruction of Kerala agriculture to a further extended level.

One of the worst cases of downfall was affected by Pokkali rice. Pokkali is a unique saline tolerant rice variety that is cultivated using extensive aquaculture in an organic way in the water-logged coastal regions, spread in about 5000 hectares in Alappuzha, Thrissur and Ernakulam districts of Kerala in Southern India. However, Pokkali farmers have a legacy of loss for the last several years. Those who want to get an agricultural resurgence should be active to make the Pokkali cultivation a viable option.

Athey Nallatha Team has noted that there is a crisis of harvesting of 25 acres of Pokkali paddy at the Panangad-Cheppanam- Chathamma area in Ernakulam district. Realizing our social responsibility, Athey Nallatha Team have actively immersed themselves in raising the public consciousness through write-ups in print, radio, television and other electronic and social media. These multi-media intermediations have not only attracted the activists but also got the attention of intellectuals. All of them were made aware of the critical situation and saved the said Pokkali paddy land of 25 acres of Pokkali land by public assistance in its harvesting. It has to be noted that otherwise, the Pokkali rice might have ruined. This strategic intercession might be written in golden letters. This has created a working model of activism and intellectualism by a socially responsible team.

Building a self-sustaining prosperous economy with women upfront?

Women’s economic empowerment is central to realizing women’s rights and gender equality. In 2006, the Economist proclaimed that women are “the world’s most under-utilized resource.”

1. Since then, growing bodies of studies have reinforced the idea that the economic empowerment of women can significantly boost productivity, reduce employee turnover, and promote the sustainable development of consumer markets. Women are more likely to be unemployed than men. In 2017, global unemployment rates for men and women stood at 5.5 per cent and 6.2 per cent respectively. This is projected to remain relatively unchanged going into 2018 and through 2021. Economists have realized that women’s economic empowerment is a prerequisite for inclusive and equitable economic growth. Women are strong and resourceful economic agents, overcoming persistent, gender-based barriers to advance the health, education, and economic security of their families. Evidence shows that women’s full participation in the economy drives better performing and more spirited businesses and supports economic growth and wider development goals for nations. Investing in girls and women creates a ripple effect that yields multiple benefits, not only for individual women, but also for families, communities, and countries. Statistics can show that increasing women’s control over household income improves their children’s access to school and healthcare; gives women greater control over their reproductive health; improves women’s ability to make environmentally friendly choices; boosts women-run businesses; and improves their status within families, communities, and entire countries. Empowering women in the economy and closing gender gaps in the world of work are key to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

2. In 2012, only 27 percent of adult Indian women had a job, or were actively looking for one, compared to 79 percent of men. When more women work, economies grow. Women’s economic empowerment boosts productivity, increases economic diversification and income equality in addition to other positive development outcomes.

3. In order to achieve this, we need sound public policies, a holistic approach and long-term commitment from all development sectors. More equitable access to assets and services – land, water, technology, innovation and credit, banking and financial services – will reinforce women’s rights, increase agricultural productivity, reduce hunger and promote economic growth. Women’s economic empowerment includes women’s ability to participate equally in existing markets; their access to and control over productive resources, access to decent work, control over their own time, lives and bodies; and increased voice, agency and meaningful participation in economic decision-making at all levels from the household to international institutions. Increasing women’s and girls’ educational attainment contributes to women’s economic empowerment and more inclusive economic growth. Education and up-skilling are critical for women’s and girl’s health and wellbeing, as well as their income-generation opportunities and participation in the formal labor market. The majority of women, significant gains in education have not translated into better labor market outcomes.

4. Women’s economic equality is good for business; companies greatly help from increasing employment and leadership opportunities for women, which is shown to increase organizational effectiveness and growth. Economic empowerment is a crucial aspect of any momentous push to make women full and equal participants in their communities. Strengthening the economic role of women is also critical to reducing poverty, improving health and education outcomes, and achieving other broad development goals. A Booz & Company study published in 2012 estimated that raising female employment to male levels could increase GDP by 34 percent in Egypt, by 12 percent in the United Arab Emirates, by 10 percent in South Africa, and by 9 percent in Japan.

5. It is estimated that companies with three or more women in senior management functions score higher in all dimensions of organizational performance.

6. Globally, women are paid less than men. The gender wage gap is estimated to be 23 per cent. This means that women earn 77 percent of what men earn, though these figures understate the real extent of gender pay gaps, particularly in developing countries where informal self-employment is prevalent.

7. Women bear disproportionate responsibility for unpaid care and domestic work. Women tend to spend around 2.5 times more time on unpaid care and domestic work than men.

8. What should be our national policy towards women inclusive growth? a.       Ensure all women have the tools to fully participate in the economy through increased access to comprehensive and equitable financial services, including credit, loans, savings, and insurance.

b. Invest in and be inclusive of women’s organizations and cooperatives to strengthen their visibility and representation; prioritize asset development, including capital, securing land and inheritance rights, and skill building programs, including financial literacy and management skills.

c. Champion the tenets of decent work for women, including equal access to employment, benefits, training, and leadership positions; equal pay; and a safe and harassment-free work environment.

d.   Invest in women’s Small and Medium Enterprises and women entrepreneurs through inclusive financing and comprehensive training.

e. Incorporate gender-based violence prevention and response strategies into women’s economic empowerment initiatives.

Athey Nallatha fully realizes the significance of women empowerment in the economic and social sphere. As a part of the social responsibility, we have created an association of middle aged mothers, who are skilled for preparing pickles. This idea not only empowered the womenfolk, but also generated new employment opportunities for the neediest people in the society, especially in the Pandemic era. We have started pickle manufacture in a small scale by utilizing the quality work hours of different mothers in scattered units working as a society/community. Different processes were allocated to different units, such as cutting, peeling, frying, mixing etc. after ensuring all measures related to pandemic safety. The product will make reminiscent of the homely feeling because of this straight approach. Thus we do have the confidence of serving a social need: empowering middle aged mothers and also effective utilization of their skills for the betterment of the society. A mother when self-sufficient, socially and economically can be considered the best asset to the world! This is the way we depict how food unites people and gathering, partying, or snacking, holding emotions and memories to cherish. This is why we manufacture our products in small batches with premium quality ingredients.


References: 1. “A Guide to Womenomics,” The Economist, April 12, 2006 2. UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment, Leave No One Behind: A Call to Action for Gender Equality and Women’s Economic Empowerment.
Available at: https://www.empowerwomen.org/-/media/files/un%20women/empowerwomen/resources/hlp%20briefs/unhlp%20full%20report.pdf?la=en] 3. International Monetary Fund (2018): Pursuing Women’s Economic Empowerment https://www.imf.org/en/Publications/Policy-Papers/Issues/2018/05/31/pp053118pursuing-womens-economic-empowerment 4. UN Women, Progress of the World’s Women 2015-2016. Chapter 2, p. 69 5. Booz & Company, “Empowering the Third Billion: Women and the World of Work in 2012,” cited in the World Bank Group, “Gender at Work: A Companion to the World Development Report on Jobs,” 2014, p.8
6. McKinsey & Company, Women Matter: Time to accelerate. Ten years of insights into gender diversity 2018. Available at: https://www.empowerwomen.org/-/media/files/un%20women/empowerwomen/resources/hlp%20briefs/unhlp%20full%20report.pdf?la=en 7. UN Women, Turning Promises into Action: Gender Equality in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (New York, 2018). Available
at: https://www.unwomen.org/en/digital-library/publications/2018/2/gender-equality-in-the-2030-agenda-for-sustainable-development-2018 8. ILO, World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends for women 2017 (Geneva, 2017). Available at: http://www.ilo.org/global/research/global-reports/weso/trends-for-women2017/lang–en/index.htm]

Project Nallatha

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