A Vizag woman’s tryst with the disappearing occupation of traditional oil extraction

oil extraction, vizag

Oil extraction using the traditional ganuga is an occupation that’s fast disappearing in Vizag. This is the story of Andhukuri Ramanamma from the remote Mulajampa village in Rambilli mandal, who keeps the tradition alive.

“My family has been in this line of oil extraction work for many years now. Operating the ganuga involves crushing sesame seeds in a wooden drum to extract sesame oil and dry cake. A bull is used to run this traditional machine, which has a drum in the center. However, today mechanised mills and factories are becoming more popular. Till two years ago, my husband would manage the shop, and we would sustain our family with the little income we got. However, in 2016, he suffered from paralysis, and became bed-ridden. With no helping hand, the burden of looking after the education of my children, daily maintenance of the bull, the health and welfare of my family fell upon me. The work orders also began to reduce, given the mechanised mills that are gaining popularity. Given my husband’s deteriorating health, work went down.

I approached the community organisers in my village in Vizag and implored people to get their grains to my shop instead of taking them to mechanised mills. Thankfully, they have come forward and agreed to support me for the oil extraction. The mill I operate, crushes up to 40kgs of sesame seeds every day. This enables me to earn up to Rs. 1000 per day. With this money I can maintain my family and enable both my daughter and son to pursue their studies in 9th grade and 6th grade respectively. I have been able to sustain my life and also the life of my bull. I hope to continue doing this work, as it helps me take care of my whole family.”

Bhagavatula Charitable Trust (BCT) supports such initiatives in rural Andhra through its community action groups.

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