VFS microfinance customer with a bundle of straw

Bula Manna

Many buffaloes for her home-delivery ‘food’ service

Bula Manna, 41, is one vital link in the food chain that keeps cows and buffaloes well fed: She buys straw from farmers in rural areas and bundles them for sale to buffalo dairy owners near urban centres.

A resident of Tarakeswar in West Bengal’s Hooghly district, Bula was inspired by a neighbour to take up the business of buying straw from farmers, binding it into smaller bundles and selling it as cattle feed. She started off in 2016 or so and took her first loan from Village Financial Services in 2020. The loan helped her overhaul her husband’s motor van – a cycle van with fat tyres powered by a motorcycle engine.

Bula’s husband, Laxman Manna, 46, who dropped out of school after Class 6, runs the logistics and supply chain – fetching the straw from farmers and then supplying the bundles to owners of khatals or buffalo dairies.

Bula’s workday begins at 6am. Till noon, she is binding the straw in saleable bundles. Her husband shares the work. Then she gets busy with household chores. Her husband begins the delivery part from 3pm, using his motorized cycle van. He gets the straw from farmers in nearby villages such as Monipur, Mirzapur and Bishnupur.

Bula and her husband buy the straw from farmers in December- January, after the harvest. Their sales shoot up during the second half of the monsoon.

They claim to have a daily income of Rs 700-1000 and an average monthly income of Rs 22,000 t0 Rs 30,000.

Bula, who studied only up to Class 4, regrets that she couldn’t give her children a good education. Her daughter, 20, dropped out of school very young.  Bula got her married off early. Bula says her son ran away from home in Class 8 and got employed in a goldsmith’s business. Having learned the craft, he returned to his village and got an artisan’s job with a jeweller. Now 26, he helps his father with money.

Published on Jul 8, 2021 | Updated on Apr 13, 2022