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Green route to income boost

Tuesday, 10 October 2017 11:54
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French-aided project creates alternative livelihoods

Guwahati, October 9: Forest dwellers of Assam now will be selling their products under a brand called Banashristi.

This has been done under the livelihood enhancement programme of the French government-aided project, Assam Project on Forest and Biodiversity Conservation.

The project lays emphasis on providing alternative livelihoods to communities to wean them away from forest dependence.

A project official said about 15 trades were identified by the communities and skill development was taken up rigorously in the interior villages.

The trainees were trained to make incense sticks, arecanut leaf plates, water hyacinth products, cane and bamboo products, food processing, lac cultivation, livestock rearing, bee-keeping, nursery management, tailoring and weaving.

A consortium of two organisations - Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship and Rashtriya Gramin Vikas Nidhi - was formed to implement the objectives of the project.

The official said modern and traditional looms had been placed at the training centres in the village itself, meeting the demand of the people. Unlike other skill development programmes, this project is unique as tools and techniques are not taken away, those are rather handed over to the joint forest management communities.

"It is an effort to reduce the dependency of the people living in the forests. Felling of trees that are available in these regions leads to climate change. The products will be sold at Vanbazar outlets across the state. Outlets will be set up on the Assam State zoo and Botanical Garden premises, near Kaziranga, Manas and Orang national parks that are frequented by a lot of tourists. A similar outlet, Uraanhat, will be set on the Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship (IIE) premises. The profits generated from the products will not be taken individually but by a joint liability group, comprising three members," IIE faculty member Santanu Mohan Deka, who is also associated with the project, said.

"The woman trainees are very interested in baking. There are participants who haven't seen an oven till date. The excitement of seeing a cake coming out of the oven after it is prepared is drawing their attention," he said.

"The IIE will help the trainees in providing them machinery and ingredients and support them to set up their own stalls. I have also asked them to offer the bakery items to guests to make the process famous in the communities," Das said.

"We have taken people from the joint forest management committees for an exposure trip to New Delhi. There they have sold value-added products of ou tenga (elephant apple) at the exposure trip. They made pickles and other products of ou tenga and sold each packet at Rs 100. They were amazed to find how an ou tenga worth only Rs 2 turned out to be a product worth Rs 100," IIE director Manoj Kumar Das said. (TTNE)

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