The Kudumbashree Story

Women Empowerment

Samagra Enterprises

Samagra approach has been part of a new strategy in enterprises promotion. Samagra is about an integrated approach to enterprises. In all eighteen projects have been initiated under Samagra across the 14 districts of the State. All the projects envisages integrated approach covering the entire value chain, bringing in technical support of professional agencies and experts, and convergence of the three-tier PRIs.


Samagra projects have been developed considering local situation in each region, leveraging on the strengths of traditional agriculture, industry, and markets. The portfolio of projects has been quite diverse.

District Project Number of Groups Number of Participants
Thiruvananthapuram Banana cultivation (Nendran) 2600 13000
Vegetable cultivation 479 2380
Cow rearing 113 561
Kollam Apparel unit 6 46
Pathanamthitta Apiculture and honey processing 210 2100
Alappuzha Spawn and mushroom cultivation 29 174
Kottayam Ornamental fish culture 42 210
Idukki Cow rearing and value addition 137 685
Poultry and egg nursery 272 1360
Ernakulam Vegetable cultivation 1025 5125
Pineapple cultivation and processing 623 3115
Thrissur Pooja kadali cultivation and processing 90 450
Palakkad Crispy fries 2 10
Kozhikkode Manufacturing of foot wear uppers 10 100
Vegetable cultivation 80 800
Kannur Goat rearing 375 1875
Kasaragod Cashew processing 26 130
Total 6119 32121


Cashew Processing – Safalam of Kasaragod

Safalam is a cashew business project promoted by the Kasaragod district Kudumbashree mission under the Samagra scheme. The project attempted utilising the district’s strength as the producer of the best cashew nuts in the State.

The cashew industry of Kasaragod has been large, dominated by private traders from the adjacent Karnataka State. The intervention tried to design and implement a business project covering procurement, processing, and marketing of cashew.

Project design

Safalam was designed as a joint project of the district panchayat, four block panchayats, and twelve gram panchayats in Kasaragod. The project outlay was Rs 1.16 crore of which district panchayat’s share was Rs 90 lakh. Grama panchayats contributed amounts in the range of Rs 2-3 lakh.

Twelve groups of women were formed across 12 gram panchayats. These groups were to do procurement and processing; an apex group was formed for grading and marketing of the products. The apex organisation was named VanithaKasuvandisamrakshanaSamiti (Safalam) and was registered as a charitable society.


Each of the twelve groups doing procurement and processing installed driers of 25kg capacity. The grading and marketing unit had a 100 kg drier in addition to the one of 25kg capacity. District panchayat provided a vehicle to safalam and Chemmanad gram panchayat provided a building to set up the grading cum marketing facility.


The twelve units were to procure cashew nuts during the season, dry them and store for use throughout the year. The procurement season is summer; form March to May. The apex unit provides the materials required for drying and storing.

Production groups do de-husking and peeling of cashew. There is a weight loss in the range of 8-10% of the weight at procurement. The production units get Rs 2 per kg of peeled cashew for procurement and storage.

Safalam has fixed rates of wages for each level of operations.

Processing Whole Cashew Split Cashew
Wage Rs per kg Allowance Rs per kg Wage Rs per kg Allowance Rs per kg
De-husking 26 4 De-husking 26
Peeling 35 9 Peeling 35

The grading and marketing unit grades the cashew into 23 categories.

  • The unit has a monthly target of grading 4250 kg of cashew at present.
  • There are seven women involved in grading now.
  • The unit also has a manager and accountant.
  • The unit keeps a sales agent and pays a commission of Rs 2 per kg of sales.
  • Women can also sell when they have no grading work to do; they get a commission of Rs 8 per kg of sales.
  • The products are sold under the brand name ‘Paranky Nuts’

The project had tried an integrated approach to cashew attempting processing of cashew apple and making pickles, squash, and jam out of them. However, these remained at very low scale mainly because of the way the project evolved.

Challenges faced by the project

  • Farmers selling cashew to the units are typically outside the Kudumbashree network; they are not part of the project. The units have to buy from these farmers at the prevailing market rates facing fluctuating prices.
  • Farmers were initially reluctant to sell to the units. This made the units offer higher prices to boost procurement. This was not managed well; higher prices led to excessive purchases.
  • Units failed to meet quality standards in procurement. There was high attrition initially of trained personnel. In the absence of adequate measures to address attrition, untrained persons ended up doing procurement. As cashew industry remained a seller’s market, units were not able to insist on quality standards either.
  • Poor quality of procured cashew, excessive procurement, high storage loss, and wastage led to losses in the first year.
  • A theft at the grading and marketing unit led to further losses in the second year of operation.
  • Auxiliary businesses using cashew apple did not pick up pace.


Goat Village – The Kannur Samagra Project

‘Goat village project’ has been an attempt to approach homestead based goat rearing as an enterprise through an integrated approach combining traditional knowledge and scientific rearing practices.

It is a samagra project and therefore adopted an integrated approach covering backward and forward linkages, keeping homestead level goat rearing unit at its centre. It also attempted collaboration of various agencies and institutions characteristic of samagra projects.

Open grazing and large scale commercial farms are the prevalent practices in goat rearing; either of these is not practical in Kerala’s context. The State does not have grazing lands covering large areas as seen in many States. Large scale commercial farms are also not practical as the State does not have suitable areas for such ventures.

Therefore, there has been a need for evolving a goat rearing model appropriate to the State’s context. This is what the district panchayat of Kannur, followed by Thrissur attempted. The projects used the strengths of traditional rearing systems.

  • It used the knowledge of people who have been rearing goats traditionally
  • It used Malabari breed, which is indigenous to the region.

‘Malabari’, an indigenous species of the region, are best suited for goat rearing in Kerala. Malabari goats have better immunity to diseases and relatively higher productivity. Their feeding habits are also suitable for homestead rearing.


Goat Village Project in Kannur

Kannur district has 81 gram panchayats, five municipalities and one corporation. Samagra goat village project was initiated in Kannur in 2008-09. During the first phase 40 panchayats were selected for implementation.

Steps followed in the project

  • Discussion of project concept at local bodies; those interested in the project join the initiative
  • Women from NHGs with interest in the project are offered a one day general orientation training at the panchayat level
  • A second orientation training was offered to women expressing interest in taking up the project after the first orientation training. This was for two days and was more detailed.
  • Formation of joint liability groups (JLGs)
  • Skill development training (Conducted once ten JLGs were formed; Department of animal husbandry of the State government, NABARD, and Centre for Environment Education (CEE) were the resource agencies that led the training programme)
  • Distribution of cage plan to farmers
  • Building of cages using locally available materials by farmer families
  • Formation of purchase committee for buying goats with president of the gram panchayat as chairperson, and CDS chairperson, veterinary surgeon, and representatives of farmers as members.
  • Discussions and decision on breed and place and time of purchase.
  • Procurement of goats
  • Distribution of goats to farmers
  • Follow up training programmes
  • Goats purchased where of one to three years of age and a minimum of 15kg weight
  • Goats were insured; transit insurance was also taken as the goats had to be transported over long distances
  • Farmers could avail subsidy only after insuring the goats
  • Insurance coverage was typically for a herd of twenty goats
  • Each five member JLG was to jointly have 19 does and a buck.
  • The goats were to be reared at the homesteads of individual JLG members.

As part of the follow up training organised at panchayat level, farmers were taken for visits to best-performing units. Scientific rearing practices, diseases and veterinary care, and insurance claim settlement were themes handled in follow up training.

Monitoring system

Committees at two levels are in place for monitoring the project.

  • Panchayat level monitoring committees are chaired by the presidents of the respective gram panchayats. Veterinary extension team (VET) provides feedback to the committee after weekly visits to the units.
  • Committee at the district level with president of the district panchayat as chairperson; district mission coordinator of Kudumbashree, district animal husbandry officer, and experts are members of the committee. The committee examines consolidated reports of panchayat level monitoring committee every month.

Veterinary Extension Team (VET)

VET was a forty member team comprising one woman member from each panchayat under the age of forty, who had passed matriculation. The team underwent training for forty five days for providing technical support to goat farmers, tracking breeding records of goats, selecting suitable goat breeds, cage making, rearing of goats, and vaccination. VET supported entrepreneurs by visiting them every week and reported in the monthly review meeting. They also provided feedback to the weekly meetings of panchayat monitoring committees.

MECs of Kudumbashree mission associated with the project in the following components.

  • Preparation of project proposals
  • Training of entrepreneurs
  • Formation of JLGs

Goat Markets

Kudumbashree district mission in Kannur organised goat markets as regular events. Goat markets brought goat farmers and buyers to a common platform facilitating direct transactions. This proved very convenient for goat farmers. Goat markets helped in bypassing the existing exploitative animal trade practices.

The period 2008-2014 saw significant growth in the spread and performance of goat rearing units.

  • 898 units of 4565 farmers
  • Units availed Rs 9.5 crore of bank loan
  • Units claimed a total of Rs 3.7 crore as subsidy
  • A producer company with 800 farmers as members has been set up at the district level

The producer company had the following as its main objectives

  • Organising goat markets
  • Creating opportunities for milk marketing
  • Organising bulk procurement of feed and supplying to farmers
  • Organising training programmes
  • Establishing linkages
  • Cultivating fodder and promoting fodder cultivation
  • Insurance
  • Awareness building

Role of Different Agencies


Local governments

Leadership, monitoring, financial support



Project finance, subsidy, training support, marketing support


Agricultural department

Technical support in producing vermi-compost, bio-fertiliser, bio-pesticide, value added composts using goat urine and goat dung


Animal husbandry department KLD Board

Identification of suitable breeds, goat cage designing, insurance of goats, support farmers in getting claims, health protection of goats, vaccination and other technical supports


Financial institutions - NABARD, Banks

Bank loans, Promotional incentives to CDS


Veterinary university

Technical support for producing value added products


Dairy development department

Value added products from goat milk, support for Grass cultivation, fodder cultivation


Centre for Environment Education

Training support


Ayurveda agencies

Market for goat urine and milk


Cow Rearing and Value Addition – Ksheerasagaram Project of Idukki

Ksheerasagaram, the Samagra project in Idukki district, addressed some of the critical problems that the dairy farmers of the State have been facing for a long time. These included low productivity, low price realisation for the milk sold, inadequate availability of green fodder, and various diseases that affect the cows.

The reasons for these problems can be traced to a few fundamental flaws in the way livestock farming has been managed in the State.

  • Lack of integration of programmes – Various departments implemented their schemes independently without taking a sector perspective.
  • Lack of effectiveness in knowledge dissemination through training programmes.

These led to issues such as the need to look at availability of green fodder, prevention and timely treatment of diseases, adoption of best practices, and creating systems for healthy maintenance of animals (scientifically designed cowsheds and clean surroundings).

Entrepreneurs in Ksheerasagaram

The project was initiated in Nedunkandam Block. Forty nine groups of five families each (one member each per family) were formed across seven Gram Panchayats, totalling 245 entrepreneur-farmers.

The Model

Support was given for the construction of 245 cow sheds, scientifically designed in the ‘Nature Fresh’ model. Each cowshed had a biogas plant attached to it. While cow rearing was in 245 cowsheds at individual households, other activities were in groups. Each group of five families were to cultivate fodder grass in an acre of land.

All the 245 entrepreneurs were given five-day residential training at the Mattuppetty training centre of Kerala Livestock Development Board. Cows were bought from outside the State; two cows per member.

Convergence of PRIs and Agencies

Agency/ PRI

Type of Support

Extent of Support

Nedungadam Block Panchayat


Rs 17.5 lakh

Idukki District Panchayat


Rs 7 lakh

Gram Panchayats

Entrepreneur identification


Animal Husbandry department

Monitoring; Insurance

Rs 2 lakh

Department of Agriculture

RKVY, Biogas plant

Rs 12.25 lakh

Kerala Livestock Development Board

Training, Subsidy for fodder grass cultivation

Rs 7.5 lakh

Kudumbashree Mission

Subsidy for buying cows, coordination, integration

Rs 42 lakh

State Bank of Travancore, Nedungandam

Loan for investment

Rs 1.96 crore

Project through Stages

Kudumbashree Samagra Workshop at Kozhikkode

May 2008

District level workshop at Nedunkandam, Idukki

June 2008

Preparation of project proposal in consultation with Block Panchayat

June 2008

Project approval by District Planning Committee (DPC)

January 2009

Block Panchayat approval of the final list of entrepreneurs

February 2009

Kudumbashree approval for the project

June 2009

SBT approval of Rs 1.96 crore loan to 245 entrepreneur-farmers


Problems Faced

  • In construction of modern cow sheds – reluctance to accept scientific design
  • Marketing issues – low price of milk
  • Cows were bought at 20% higher prices than the provision in the project
  • There were problems at inter-State check post – corruption
  • Three cows died; two were badly affected by mastitis
  • Difficulties in realising claim against insurance under Gosuraksha scheme

Gains of the Project

  • Additional income of Rs 100 per day per family
  • Additional 3224 litres of milk production in a Block Panchayat
  • A message of hygienic production and handling of milk
  • Cow dung – a contribution to farming sector
  • Land, water and biodiversity improvement through fodder grass cultivation
  • New model for convergence and cooperation
  • People’s participation; especially of women
  • Capacity building of women
  • Strengthening of planning at PRI level

Pineapple – SamagraPineshree of Ernakulam

Kudumbashree Ernakulam District Mission took up the Samagra Project ‘Pineshree’ in 2008 with the support of the District, Block and Gram Panchayats to set up a production-marketing chain for pineapple. The project envisaged to enhance the productivity and attempt product diversification. The objective was to produce 25,000 tonnes of fruit in 500 hectares of land benefitting 12,500 women.

Project location was Vazhakkulam Gram Panchayat in Ernakulam district. Vazhakkulam is known as an important centre for pineapple trade in India. The place has a history of growing pineapple commercially for more than fifty years. Pineapple goes to Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, and Delhi from Vazhakkulam. It has been estimated that around 60,000 people work in pineapple sector in Vazhakkulam.

Mauritius and Kew are the two major varieties of pineapple grown in Vazhakkulam. Mauritius, a variety considered suitable for commercial cultivation is the most common variety; Vazhakkulam accounts for 50% of Kerala’s produce of Mauritius pineapple. The variety has the advantage of being a shorter duration crop, of better fruit quality, and high transportability suitable for supply to distant markets. Kew variety is better for processing as the variety has more stable flesh.

Pineshree project attempted to leverage of Vazhakkulam’s strengths as a traditional area for pineapple cultivation. The project was a joint initiative of Ernakulam District Panchayat, Kudumbashree Mission, and Nadukkara Agro Processing Company Limited, which has been known for its brand ‘Jive’. The role of the Agro Processing Company was envisaged in value addition and marketing. Pineapple jam factories run by Kudumbashree groups were proposed as a component of value addition in the project. The project proposed setting up of two satellite processing centres for producing value added products involving 40 women in ten activity groups.

The first Pineshree processing unit was set up in Marady Panchayat near Muvattupuzha in August 2011. Kerala Agriculture University, Thrissur and Central Food Technology Research Institute (CFTRI), Mysore provided technical training to the women’s groups.

The project attempted two methods in selling the products – through setting up kiosks at public places and through direct sales.

The project has been able to set up a state of the art production facility and operationalise it through trained women’s group. Kiosks were also set up. The project’s failure was in deviating from the Samagra approach as women’s group bought pineapple from open market rather than from cultivating groups. There was no direct link between Samagra pineapple cultivators and Pineshree units.

Madhuram – Apiculture and Honey Marketing Samagra in Pathanamthitta

Pathanamthitta district’s Samagra project in apiculture and honey marketing was formulated with an outlay of Rs 31.35 crore with the three-tier PRIs participating in investment. The project envisaged the following.

  • Production of 20 lakh litres of honey by setting up 2 lakh beehives providing income generating self-employment to 10,000 women.
  • Participation of 25,000 rubber growers of the region in the programme.
  • Setting up processing units for honey.
  • Setting up of extensive retail network for selling honey with quality certification.

Pathanamthitta district is known for its hilly terrain and extensive rubber cultivation. The project aimed at using rubber flowers for producing honey by setting up homestead level beehives maintained by women. The project design included an array of agencies working together and contributing to different aspects of the project.

Kerala State horticulture Development Corporation (Horticorp)

Providing beehives, training, technical support

Department of Agriculture, Government of Kerala

Support in setting up soil testing laboratory, bio-control laboratory, and tissue culture laboratory; training, technical collaboration.

Kerala Agriculture University

Technical support in bee keeping, Setting up of Agmark laboratories, training support in food processing.

Department of Tourism, Government of Kerala

Export and marketing in other States of India.

Devaswom Department, Government of Kerala

Setting up retail network


Financial support, Coordination of financial support initiatives


Financial support (loan)

The project aimed at generating a monthly income of Rs 1900 per member.


Spawn and Mushroom Cultivation - Alappuzha

The Samagra project for spawn and mushroom cultivation in Alappuzha was formulated with an outlay of Rs 1.74 crore. The project envisaged 100 units of 300 women producing 1000 kg mushroom and 2000 bottles of spawn per day. Product diversification and training facility in best practices were part of the project.

  • The project activities included the following.
  • Training and knowledge dissemination
  • Setting up of production centres
  • Spawn production centres
  • Vermi compost production
  • Collection and marketing centres
  • Sales network

The project aimed at a monthly income generation of Rs 2905 per member.

True to the Samagra strategy, the project was conceived as one converging the roles and contributions of a number of agencies.




Organising training programmes, ensuring the timely setting up of units, facilitating bank loan, coordination of other agencies, monitoring.

Marari Marketing Company

Project implementation, setting up of mushroom park, training, mushroom production, collection, marketing.

District Panchayat

Overall responsibility for project implementation, setting up of spawn production unit, supervision of collection and distribution, interfacing with banks, coordination of district level agencies, making subsidy available, district level project monitoring.

Gram Panchayat

Arrangements for training programmes, recognition of activity groups, ensuring support of Krishibhavan, arranging credit, coordination of different agencies.

Kerala Agriculture University

Technical support

Department of Agriculture

Technical support, training



Pooja Kadali Project in Thrissur – Nivedyam

The samagra project in Thrissur was designed around the possibility of producing a special variety of bananas used for rituals in the famous Guruvayur temple. The variety is called kadali; the project was about large scale cultivation of this particular variety of plantain. Kadali in fact has been considered an endangered plantain species.

The project envisages cultivation of plantains over 300 hectares aimed at an annual production of six tonnes; the project was expected to generate 90,000 person-days of work.

The project was proposed for implementation through 150 activity groups. The following were the project components.

  • Quality control
  • Tissue culture laboratory
  • Model plantations
  • Setting up nurseries
  • Biodiversity conservation
  • Pack houses
  • MoU with GuruvayurDevaswom, the administrative body of the temple for supply of kadala banana

Every member was expected to get a monthly income of Rs 300 during first year and Rs 600 during second and third years.

Agency Roles

District Panchayat

Supervision of the project, coordination of district level agencies, interfacing with banks, setting up of tissue culture laboratory, district level monitoring, making subsidies available.

Block Panchayat

Establishing pack houses, Running of tissue culture lab, supervision of model farms, block level monitoring.

Gram Panchayat

Arrangements for training, Recognition of activity groups, ensuring support of Krishibhavan, arranging credit, coordination of various agencies.

Kudumbashree Mission

Training, monitoring, setting up tissue culture lab, arranging credit, coordination of other agencies.


Technical support, biodiversity conservation, quality assurance, maintenance of model farms, setting up of vermi compost unit, panchayat level monitoring.

Department of Agriculture, Government of Kerala

Technical support and advice

GuruvayurDevasom Board


Palakkad Samagra – Crispy Fries

Palakkad district formulated a Samagra project aimed at reviving some of the traditional food products that were going out of vogue. The project envisaged providing regular employment to around 450 women through an annual production of 715 tonnes of crispy fries made of different vegetables and fruits.

Project activities

  • Formation of faculty groups
  • Formation of 96 activity groups
  • Setting up of 24 common facility centres
  • Steps to ensure quality and traditional patterns
  • Marketing network

District Panchayat, Gram Panchayat, Kudumbashree Mission, Kerala Agriculture University, Corporation of Thrissur, Krishibhavan, and CDS. The CDS took up the responsibility of selecting members and organising activity groups, conducting training programmes, interfacing the banks for loan, and panchayat level monitoring.


Kozhikkode– Sandal Production

Kozhikkode district formulated a Samagra project for making production of upper layer of sandals as an enterprise at an outlay of Rs 4.44 crore. The project was proposed to utilise the opportunities in the local sandal making industry and generate employment to 1000 women.

Project Activities

  • Formation of 100 activity groups of ten women each
  • Training in production of upper layer of sandals
  • Training on design
  • MoU with FDCC and CLRI
  • MoU with VKC, a branded sandal producer, to procure the uppers

The Gram Panchayat identified the members for forming activity groups and made preparations for project implementation. It also looked after the contracts with agencies. Kudumbashree Mission ensured availability of subsidies, training, and project monitoring. FDDC and CLRI supported by offering training programmes and technical support and guidance. The project was to supply the sandal parts produced to VKS, a well-known brand in local sandal market.