Every crisis fuels Innovation and it has been proved once again by the Indian entrepreneurs and tribal women from different parts of the country as they produced hand sanitisers from Mahua flowers.
While the world was reeling from an acute shortage of alcohol-based hand sanitizers to combat the COVID-19 infection, women from Chattisgarh and the dense forest areas of Alirajpur (a district in Madhya Pradesh) presented the country with locally made hand sanitizers from Mahua flowers.
The Mahua extract is a popular country-liquor in the central Indian states. This yellow flower blooms heavily in summer. It took only a couple of days for the women to distil the Mahua extract and process it as an effective hand sanitizer for the locals. Let’s get into the details!
‘Sri Hari Ajeevika’, a self-help group based out of the Udaigarh development block of Alirajpur (MP) comprises 10 tribal women. One of the women from this group, Bharti, told The New Indian Express how people felt helpless and worried once the lockdown was implemented. Hand sanitizers were already facing a shortage in the market, the lockdown only made it more difficult to fetch them.
These women from the self-help group leveraged technology to their advantage. They looked out for alternatives for hand sanitizers on the internet and discovered that their very own Mahua flowers were the solution to their problem.
They extracted the Mahua liquor (Ethyl Alcohol, 60-70% of which forms the base of hand sanitizers) and mixed it with water. They also added natural disinfectants such as alum and Neem leaves to the mixture. Rosewater (Gulab Jal) was added for fragrance. Locally made hand sanitizers were ready!
The sanitizer soon obtained the required safety and quality clearance through lab testing and was sold in bottles of Rs. 70 each. Udaigarh block manager of the National Rural Livelihoods Mission, Mr Vijay Soni said in a news report that each bottle entailed a profit of just Rs. 5.
Similar methods were adopted by another group of women at a self-help group in Chattisgarh named as ‘Singani’, as reported by Deccan Herald.
Chattisgarh-based entrepreneur Samarth Jain runs a company that makes herbal and agricultural products. The idea of making hand sanitizers locally occurred to him when he couldn’t gather sufficient hand sanitizers for the employees at his petrol pump.
Within just a few days, Jain obtained the required permission from the Government authorities. With help from the forest department for raw materials and the Singani group of women in manufacturing, Mahua-based hand sanitizers were ready in just 3 days!
After an initial distribution to police personnel serving at the lockdown duty, Sangani’s Mahua hand sanitizers gradually took up the pace and raged in demand.
These incidents are examples showing how Mother Nature is proficient in fulfilling all our needs. It’s in the human hands to determine how we can use our environmental resources sustainably, rather than exploiting it unnecessarily. These tribal women have just proved that point and it is also the time for being vocal about local.