MUMBAI: In Nandurbar district of North Maharashtra, the concept of sustainable livelihood is not only helping the tribals conserve biodiversity but also make a better living.
Ramsinh Walvi, who won the state biodiversity board’s special award this year for the biodiversity centre he has developed for five villages, said that the Mahua (Madhuka India) has a 20-25 day flowering season, within which they have to be collected and sold.
“The kind of distress sale meant low prices. We formed a mahua bank where low-cost local measures such as bamboo pots were used to preserve the flowers. This meant that the flowers fetched good prices and were available at a nominal rate whenever required,” said Walvi, who is Kanjala village in Akkalkuwa tehsil of Nandurbar.
Walvi and his team also identified wild custard apples. A training programme on plucking and storing was held. They were then taken to the market in Surat, where they fetched better prices. Same is the case with ‘amchoor’.
“Identifying cost-effective manufacturing techniques and selling them through cooperatives are helping tribals make more money,” Walvi added.
The centre managed by biodiversity committees at Kanjala, Palakhobra, Debramal, Sambar and Velkhedi has information on 55 varieties of forest vegetables, 12 varieties of tubers, 18 kinds of flowers, 28 varieties of forest fruits, five types of climbers, 37 types of medicinal plants, 35 species of birds, 15 species of animals and 49 types of things that include traditional tools and musical instruments.
Walvi started working on the joint forest management programme through his NGO, Ekalavya Grameen Adivasi Vikas Mandal, in 1998. Documentation of trees, according to their use as timber or fruits etc, led the village to the biodiversity register. Forest vegetables, which once made a prominent part of the staple diet in the region, were revived through the project. They also formed an agro-marketing cooperative and last year set up Biodiversity preservation, conservation, exhibition and training centre at Merali, which the community manages without grants from the government or a funding organisation.
“They have decided to manage the centre on their own, which is an expression of their sense of trusteeship towards the natural resources,” said Kapil Sahasrabuddhe of Yojak, an NGO engaged in capacity building of such small groups.
Treasure trove of information
The centre managed by biodiversity committees at Kanjala, Palakhobra, Debramal, Sambar and Velkhedi has information on 55 varieties of forest vegetables, 12 varieties of tubers, 18 kinds of flowers, 28 varieties of forest fruits, 37 types of medicinal plants etc