India’s estimated 100 million migrant workers were among the worst affected by the COVID-19 triggered unemployment
India’s estimated 100 million migrant workers were among the worst affected by the COVID-19 triggered unemployment. The shut down of businesses, across sectors, in the cities, forced them to return home. Dependence on MGNREGS spiked as local economies hardly created jobs for the returnee migrants. A Reuters report put the number of applications for work under the scheme at 98 million.
Local nonprofits responded to the crisis in a variety of ways such as by making pandemic relief available or working closely with the local governments to help them identify work under MGNREGS and mobilising communities for the work, or providing skill training.
The nonprofit, Centre for Youth and Social Development (CYSD) in Odisha trained returnee migrants with skills to harness the opportunities in the agro-allied sector. Taking note of the demand for mushrooms in the local market, the good return on investments from mushroom farming, and the vegetable’s nutritional value for the families, CYSD decided to train returnee migrants in mushroom production.
Specifically, they identified and trained 53 women and 30 men in spawn production and mushroom farming. The migrants underwent a five day residential training programme from the Kalinga Mushroom Research Unit. The training was held at CYSD’s Rural Livelihoods Training Centre at Kapundi in Keonjhar district of Odisha.
CYSD is a member of the Odisha Chapter of the RCRC, a coalition of 65 civil society organisations supporting the rural poor, marginalised communities through direct action, research and policy advocacy, to respond to the devastating disruption caused by COVID-19.