RAYAGADA: The hill broom grass has turned out to be a lucrative livelihood source for tribals and local people of the district.This minor forest produce, found abundantly in Kashipur, Kalyansinghpur, Niyamgiri, Putasingh areas of Gunupur and other parts of the district, is used in making brooms.
Sources said at least 3,200 tonnes of hill broom are being transported to different parts of the country annually. As many as 30 trader groups from Delhi, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and other States procure the forest product on wholesale basis, thereby providing a much-needed boost to the economy of the area.
Earlier, traders used to purchase the raw material from locals as a result of which hill broom did not fetch the expected price despite its huge marketability. But now, due to proper facilitation and support for better marketing from Odisha Livelihood Mission (OLM), hill broom fetches thrice the minimum support price (`10 per kg) from traders.In a bid to promote marketing of the product, OLM has formed Self-Help Groups (SHGs) or producer groups, the members of which have been trained to make the product attractive.
Bhusan Ghui, a trader from Nagpur, said earlier they used to procure the raw material from various parts of the district such as K Singpur, Muniguda and Kashipur blocks and later made brooms out of it by engaging separate labour groups.
‘‘Moreover, as there were no storage facilities, keeping the product in godowns was an expensive affair. But now, we get the brooms directly from the producer groups.
This is proving to be beneficial both for traders as well as the locals engaged in making brooms,’’ Ghui said.
Chief executive of District Supply and Marketing Society, Rayagada, Allaka Uma Mahesh said in order to give a boost to the hill broom trade, a revolving fund of about `71 lakh has been provided to 10 producers’ groups of the district under the special fund project of OLM.These groups have also been provided `8.45 lakh for institutional and capacity building of members. In the current year, the groups will make a business of `21 lakh of which `9 lakh would be the profit margin, said Uma Mahesh.
Currently, 60 to 65 members are working in each Producer group.OLM has identified seven producer groups from Kashipur block and five from Chatikona area which will be taken into the fold soon.