Himachal self-help groups under Him Ira on the path to self-reliance

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The Himachal Pradesh government has taken various innovative initiatives to make rural women economically competent by constituting self-help groups for their development, which has provided them a new direction towards becoming self-reliant.

One of the innovative projects started by Him Ira is the new initiative to prepare hygienic food for people in various departments, offices and canteen located in educational institutions and government offices. Under this, in the first phase, Department of Technical Education, Himachal Pradesh has agreed to provide free of cost space to self-help groups to set up Him Ira Kitchen in its 14 educational institutions. The selection and training of members to run these canteens have already been started.

The first canteen of Him Ira was started in Arki ITI of Solan district. In future, Him Era Rasoi, to be run by members of self-help groups in other educational institutions and government departments, would be made functional in a well planned manner.

Similarly, to provide quality, clean and homemade food to the people of state, an innovative Him Ira Annapurna Meals on Wheels has also been started. On 10th March, 2021 the Chief Minister had provided the first Him Ira Annapurna Meals on Wheels food van to members of self-help groups in Shimla. Both these important steps would provide rural women with sustainable livelihood opportunities.

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As of now 24,500 thousand self-help groups have been formed under the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) in the state. One of these groups is ‘Him Ira’ launched in 2019-20. All the self-help groups are now selling their products under this brand. In order to popularize Him Ira, Himachal Pradesh State Rural Livelihoods Mission is also setting up Him Ira shops and weekly markets in the state.

Besides,  good quality products at low prices, Him Ira shops and weekly markets are proving to be a milestone in making markets available for the products of Mahila Mandals. Self-help groups (SHGs) are provided space in the gram panchayat for the sale of their products. In addition, a weekly market is also organized at the segment level, in which women of the groups can sell their products directly to the people.

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Him Ira shops and markets are proving helpful in providing markets to small and marginal farmers and SHGs for selling their organic products grown from natural farming without any intermediaries. The target is to set up one hundred Him Ira shops in different parts of the state, atleast one in every Assembly constituency.

So far, Him Ira shops have been established in 46 locations of the state and locations have been identified for setting up shops in 71 different locations of the state. Till February 2021, sale of Rs One crore 20 lakh has been registered through Him Ira shops.

The Him Ira weekly markets have been set up either at office premises of development blocks or at any nearby available places. The weekly market are preferably set up at a place where self-help groups and local people can easily reach out to sell and buy their products. Currently, average sales of Rs 15,000 to Rs 22,500 per week have been recorded in these weekly markets from August 2020 to January 2021.