This Uttarakhand forest range officer helps locals manufacture, market their produce better

Keerti, who joined her first posting as a range officer on May 1 last year, has been instrumental in transforming the lives of these villagers, especially women.

Published: 14th March 2021 07:07 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th March 2021 07:30 AM   |  A+A-

Women are leading the way in making and marketing items under ‘Dhatree’

Women are leading the way in making and marketing items under ‘Dhatree’

Express News Service

UTTARAKHAND:  It has been a hectic day for Medhavi Keerti, forest range officer of Bhadrigaad range. Fondly called ‘Ranger Didi’ by locals, she has to train a select few local women for the first-ever ‘Dhatree’ initiative. Dhatree, meaning mother, is the brainchild of Keerti who started it after senior officials encouraged her to utilise the catchment area treatment (CAT) funds of the Uttarakhand State Forest Department.

Keerti, who joined her first posting as a range officer on May 1 last year, has been instrumental in transforming the lives of these villagers, especially women. Their income has gone up over 10-fold since October last year. “It was difficult convincing people. But with the support of my seniors, especially DFO Kehkashan Naseem Ma’am, I succeeded. Finally, it all started last year barely a month before Diwali. We arranged machines and trainers for train a few local women.

We earned Rs 40,000 this Diwali. This was enough for everyone to persevere,” says Keerti. Within four-and-a-half months, she has helped locals manufacture and market over 100 items. These include diyas, havan samagri, pots, aroma products and marketing local food grains such as barley, rajma and Manduwa, rhododendron juice at prices twice to four times than before. 

Keerti also arranged training courses for local women in food processing, knitting, stitching and manufacturing as well as marketing of ‘Vedik Patravali’ which includes plates, bowls made from local plants Malu and Timli. She has now arranged a selected group to get training in making artefacts from cow dung.  People from villages Bhutgaon (cow dung products), Negyana (aroma and cosmetics products made from indigenous medicinal plants), Bandasari (local food grains and food processing), Tikri (knitting and stitching), Sumankyari (Vedik Patravali from Malu and Timli plants) are leading the way.

Kehkashan Naseem, Divisional Forest Officer of the Mussoorie, says such initiatives are a result of hard work. “Medhavi Keerti has put in a lot of hard work. We hope to build ‘Dhatree’ as a renowned brand for good quality, indigenous products,” says Naseem. “Earlier we sold our ‘Manduwa’ for Rs  35 per kg. It is now sold at Rs 140 a kg. I earn 10 times more than what I used to about a year ago. I make items from cow dung, cultivate and sell food grains at better prices, make juices as well as market our spices too,” says Nirmala Panwar, 46, of Bandasari.

 A store has also come up in Bandasari where local food grains, pulses, spices
and other items are showcased 

A store has also come up in Bandasari where local food grains, pulses, spices and other items are showcased. Plans are afoot to open more such stores across Uttarakhand. Men used to discourage women and young girls, saying once they get married, they’d leave for their husband’s home, leaving others groping in the dark. To tackle this, Keerti has started another branch called ‘Nandini’. “Under Nandini, unmarried girls work and manufacture their own products,” says Keerti.

Nidhi Hanumati, 21, looks after manufacturing of ‘Nandini Dhoop Batti.’ “Ranger Didi always motivates us to do something in our lives. She says to dream big and never give up.”  The officer has also met seers and saints to showcase the products in Mahakumbh 2021. The seers have promised her support in the event scheduled from April 1. Keerti has initiated a tie-up with a Nagpur-based organisation that specialises in making artefacts from cow dung. “Once cattle stop giving milk, they are discarded. In our new initiative, they would get a better life,” says Keetri. 



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