For residents of Nochikulam, Sri Lanka, getting their rice milled was difficult for decades. There was no mill in their village, so they had to walk 2km up the road to the nearest mill. Because so many people used that mill, they had to stand in line for hours waiting for their rice to be processed. During the civil war, many residents of Nochikulam were terrified to make the walk because there was a very real danger they could be shot while traveling. Only older people were safe to make that walk during the height of the war.
With the help of PWRDF, the Organization for Eelam Refugee Relief (OfERR) built a rice mill in Nochikulam. The mill is managed by a women’s self-help group in the village, and operated by Sritharan (whose wife is one of the managing group.)
Rice which is brought to the mill is processed three times through two separate phases. This repeated milling removes the husks from the rice grains, leaving edible rice at the end of the process. It took Sritharan about 20 minutes to run a bin of rice through the full process while we visited with him.
The mill has made life much easier for the residents of Nochikulam. Not only do they save the time it took them to walk the 2km to the other mill and the time they used to have to stand in line, they also save money. Because the mill is run by the community, they charge villagers less for the milling than before. Also, the by-products of the milling are used in the community. The husks are either burned as fuel or used in composting, and the bran is used to feed cattle. One farmer said that the milk yield is better now because “we get good feed [for the cattle] from the rice mill.”