Why Jhamfcofed
Forest as source of livelihood

Forest as source of livelihood for poor people in Jharkhand : Around 29% of the area in Jharkhand is under forest cover as against 23% in India as a whole. Jharkhand accounts for 3.4% of the total forest cover of the country and ranks 10th among all states. Forests have contributed about 1.3% of the State’s GSDP in 2005-06 which is less than half of what used to be in 2001-02. Jharkhand’s poverty ratio was 44% as against the national average of 26% in 2000. The rural poverty though was highest among all states at 49%. Of the 49% rural poverty, 75% are people who live either inside or on the periphery of the forests. The survival of these 75% poverty stricken people depends a whole lot on the forests resources as forests are their main source of livelihood. This is more so during the lean season. The extremely poor rural people gather wood from the forests and carry them to the urban areas where they sell them at distress prices.

Results from the recent Citizen’s Report Card survey suggested that in the 400 households surveyed, about 12 percent depend totally on the forest during times of unemployment. Also, the survey reported that most forest products are collected for personal use.

The villagers living on the periphery of forests normally collect fodder, fuel wood and wooden poles for household use and construction of homesteads. As per the findings of Tata Energy Research Institute (TERI), fuel wood collection ranges from 2 kg per household to 30 kg per household per day. At least 70% of the fodder requirement comes directly from the forests. They also collect poles for construction of their homes. On an average a household extracts around 6-10 poles from the forest in a period of three years.

Forestry sector contributes 4 to 7 percent of employment and has very low productivity in terms of per unit generation of timber. In TSP districts, tribal populations are in majority but there are tribal populations in Other Area districts also and in these for their livelihood the prime source is the forest. The forests, being one of the most important entity of the terrestrial ecological system which is presently under extreme biotic pressure, is still a renewable natural resource that support not only human life but also providing various habitat to millions of life forms, attracts needs to manage it scientifically to sustain.

Minor Forest Produce (MFP)

MFP play an important role in the livelihood support of tribal and forest dwellers in terms of subsistence and income generation. When agriculture is gradually ceasing to be reliable, MFP sustains millions of tribal by providing an alternate source for food and income. The dependence is maximum on produces like Kendu leaf, Mahua, char, tamarind, Sal seed, Amla etc.

Most of these products are wasted for lack of post harvesting technology in cleaning, packing, storage and processing.

The forest in Jharkhand comprises of biological and geophysical diversities. Due to variations of altitude and rainfall diverse forest types and species are available in Jharkhand forest. Many species are economically important for the people living in & around the forest areas. These people mainly tribals are engaged in the collection of leaves, barks, gums, roots, flowers, fruits and entire plants from the forest areas for their livelihood out of which many species are medicinally and industrially important. Population wise 50%(approx) population are dependent on forest and out of these 70% (approx) are BPL family. The importance of forest thus can’t be over emphasized.

Forest provides invaluable income to millions of tribal people and forest dwellers and, thereby, plays an important role in their life support system. They depend on it for food, fodder, medicines. entertainment and also for their cultural practices. Despite forest being an integral part of their life support system, the state has not paid much attention on the development and value addition of these products.

These products are covered under Minor Forest Produce or (Non-Wood Forest Produce). These are obtained from the forest and do not include the wood. It has been the major source of revenue in many states. In the Jharkhand State Kendu leaves trade turnover was to the tune of approximately Rs. 50 Crore in 2007-2008 and major portion of which (75%) went to the indigenous people as labour for collection of Kendu leaves. Kendu leaf collection occurs in a short span of two months which is a lean season (April and May) for the villagers.


The Extent of Minor Forest Produce

Sal seed had been another major collection item which has reduced in output due to short collection period, lack of willpower and lack of proper marketing etc. It can provide nearly Rs. 40 to 50 cores to the villagers in terms of purchase price of the seeds. Oil butter of Sal seed in an alternative of cocoa butter hence it is used in Chocolate manufacture. The Sal Seed cakes are good cattle feed.

Tamarind Production is about 2 lakh MT. at a minimum price of Rs. 6 per. Kilo it will give 120 cores to the tribals Small processing units like deseeding of tamarind, tamarind paste will give jobs to the local people. Self help group can run these small processing units but there is no focus on these issues.

The flower of Palash (Fire of forest) is very good non toxic natural colour. Villagers boil flowers of palash during Holi festival and pour that coloured water on each other and play Holi. A processing plant can be established and the dry colour can be obtained which is used in carpet industries. This is natural, organic colour. It will fetch a very handsome price.

Mahulan (Bauhinia leaves) leaves and its bark (Chop) are used for making leaf plants and ropes respectively, has tremendous market in Southern India. Besides this, acacia pods used as pot-pourri is being traded internationally. It is collected in large amount in Deoghar, Madhupur, Giridih, Singhbum areas and exported from Tuticorin, Tamilnadu, So is the market of the medicinal plants, gums and other M.F.P. items.

Sal Leaf - Sal leaves are collected from Sal trees and they are used in making Sal plates, Dona by villagers. The villagers sell the rough plates at the rate of Rs. 6.00 to 8.00 per 100 plates to the middle man. These rough plates are converted in to hot pressure plates and marketing sale price increase from 6.00 rupees to 25.00 rupees per 100.

Anwala - After creation of Jharkhand Anwala is planted in large scale. Anwala fruits are collected by villagers and sold @ of 5 to 6 rupees per Kg. Anwala is used in making Chyavanprash, Murabba, Achar etc. Thus value added to 40.00 rupees per Kg.

Medicinal Plants - A variety of medicinal plants are grown in the forest areas but its unscientific collection, poor knowledge and non-availability of markets benefits the people in small scale but the scope is unlimited. The common varieties found in the forests are Safed Musali, Chiraita, Kalihari, Mulaithi, Gudmar, Pathar-Chur, Tulasi, Anwa, Bel, Brahmi, Satawar, Jatamanshi etc.

Chironji is sold at Rs.400/- kg in Reliance fresh store. The traders collect this valuable nut in the exchange of salt or rice.

These Ayurvedic medicines cure many disease without any side effects.

Tribals of Jharkhand cure themselves with the medicinal plants. They know the medicinal value and property of the plants. This knowledge is not passing to the next generation. A time may come when very few people will know about the medicinal values of these plants. Therefore survey and enlisting of these plants is urgently required. Medicinal plants will give income and jobs to the rural poor.

Value addition to these plants in the state itself is also very essential and it will give jobs.


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