Rural Dalit blacksmiths have a long tradition of making and repairing basic farm tools but earnings are hardly enough to feed theirfamilies. They lack new skills and resources to upgrade their enterprises. In one month's time, a skill development course will be organised jointly by RAP 3 together with the District Cottage and Small Industries Development Board (CSIDB), KshitizCooperative of Muzabagar and the VDCs of Santada, Batulasen and Ramaroshan.
A total of 10 blacksmiths have been selected for training through the VDC level Dalit network with the facilitation and support of RAP Social Mobilisers. In the first phase of this four-month course, the trainees will learn modern and effective techniques to mold and chisel metals, while the second phase will concentrate on more advanced skills in sharpening and shining tools as sought by the market.
CSIDB will provide Rs 250,000 for the first phase training and support the second phase training by recruiting experienced trainers who are on their roster. The Kshitiz Cooperative of farmers will set up an improved blacksmith factory (Sudhariyako Aran) for training and later employing the blacksmiths. The cooperative will invest Rs 150,000, RAP 3 Rs 180,000 and the three VDCs Rs 50,000 each from the Dalit fund of VDC budget. The factory will be run by Kshitiz cooperative and issue Rs330,000 worth of shares to the blacksmiths, providing full time employment and ownership of the factory. As the factory expands, it will provide employment to other people in the area.