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Turmeric soaps pave way for financial independence of Koraput’s tribal women

Around 1,2000 tribal women in the area have managed to eke out a living making turmeric soaps

Soap bars made from turmeric roots, known for its antiseptic property, has helped the tribal women in Odisha’s Koraput district eke out a living. 

Each year, around 1,000 tonnes of turmeric is harvested in hilly areas of the district that are conducive for the plant growth, according to an official of the Odisha Rural Development and Marketing Society (ORMAS). Recently, the tribal population of the region has discovered a way of utilising the surplus produce. 

They were provided grinding machines and training in soap crafting by the government-managed ORMAS and the Central Horticultural Experiment Station, Bhubaneswar. 

“Around 1,200 tribal women  are earning income  by making turmeric soaps,” said Roshan Kumar Kartik, deputy chief executive, ORMAS.


Ground turmeic is kneaded with olive oil and shaped into moulds to make soaps. Photo: Ashis Senapati

“Our living condition has improved and we are now able to save Rs 4,000 a month,” said Kanti Miniaka of Konapadi village, who participated in training programmes organised by a self-help group run by 20 women. 

The tribal people collect turmeric from the fields and ground them into fine powder. The powder is kneaded with almond oil in a heat-safe container and heated. The resulting mixture is cooled and shaped into moulds. 

The herb is popular in the beauty industry for its purifying and anti-acne properties and thus, the soap has found many takers in urban areas like Cuttack and Bhubaneswar. 

Each soap sells for Rs 50, added Kartik. “I made around Rs 3,000 per month in the last six months,” said Gita Muska of Tayaput village. 

Muska had joined a self-help group in her locality where she was taught the art of making soaps from turmeric.

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