Minor forest produce (MFP), which has been a major source of income for tribals, is fast depleting from the reserve forests in Chamarajanagar.
The scarcity of forest produce, including gooseberry, lichen, honey and soap nut is adversely affecting the livelihood of tribal population and the industry that depends on it.
As many as 12,000 tribals in Chamrajnagar, spread in four taluks, depend on these forest produce for a living.Drastic reduction in rainfall and climatic changes have hit the gooseberry and honey production.
Tribals used to collect around 200 tonnes of gooseberry and sell it through Large Sized Adivasi Multi Purpose Co-operative Societies (LAMPS).
This time, tribals also collected only around 20 tonnes of honey and they are likely to get less than 50 per cent of last year’s collection during the season. This drastic fall has forced many tribals to switch over to other works.
They are working in coffee estates and ginger farms in the neighbouring districts.
Mallesh of an NGO said that many youths are employed by the Forest Department for many works during summer.
He felt that the government should take up National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme works between March and May instead of the current schedule which coincides with the harvesting season.
Shivanna of Chamrajnagar LAMPS told Express: “We collected more than six tonnes of honey to meet the demand of pharmaceutical companies. But, lack of rain has hit production and it can improve only with good rain in the next season”.
He said they decided to procure honey at `130 per kg and sell it at `200 per kg to the Himalayan Drug Company and others.
He said the society has 2,300 members in Chamarajanagar and it has registered more than `1 crore business.
The LAMPSs in Hanur and BR Hills are also hit by fall in production.
The lack of raw material has forced many companies to look for private players who produce honey and other produce.