Women of Chaudhabisa

The workload of local women in the Chaudhabisa area, Jumla, has reduced significantly while interest in resource conservation strategies has increased thanks to ANSAB’s interventions. The dhatelo (Prinsepia utilis) plant is very useful in rural areas, as its body can be used for fencing and domestic animal fodder in the winter season. Most vital to many communities, however, are its fruits, which, when squeezed, produce an edible oil that has become the main cooking oil in many villages. However, a great deal of effort is required to produce a small amount of oil, and the crushing of the fruit was a frustrating job that many refused to do and was often left to the women of the community.

As in other parts of Jumla, women of Patmara, Patrasi, Dillichaur, and Chumchaur are busy with household work from very early morning to late night. One of the activities their daily activities was the extraction of dhatelo oil, the major source of cooking oil in the village. When exploring enterprise options with the community, increased ease of dhatelo oil extraction was the number one priority from the women’s group. With project support, the oil expelling mill was established.

Bhun Bahadur Bista, Chairperson of Bhagawati Community Forest Users Group (CFUG) said, “Traditionally, we could squeeze only half liter of oil from 8 mana (4 kg) of raw dhatelo fruits. After establishment of the enterprise, the mill now produces 1 liter of oil from 4 kg of dhatelo”. One household used to squeeze 20 to 30 mana (10-15 kg) of dhatelo per day, but with the enterprise we can expel 350 mana (175 kg) in a day,” says Bhun Badhur. The enterprise increases the efficiency of oil extraction by 100%. In addition to higher yield, women of these villages have received some relief from the labor intensive work of dhatelo oil extraction. Realizing the importance of the species, local people have started planting the species in their land. The species can be grown in marginal land such as terrace risers. The enterprise has not only provided economic opportunities for 1,500 households but increased the interest of people on resource management.