BARIPADA: After farmers of paddy and vegetables, Mahua flower collectors find themselves cornered by poor marketing support. They are forced to distress sale of the flowers to unscrupulous traders who export the produce to other states for higher profit.
While Mahua flowers are sold at `90 per kg in neighbouring Jharkhand, the collectors in Mayurbhanj district are selling those at `30 to `50 per kg. Raw flowers cost `30 per kg and dried flowers fetch `50 per kg. This despite the fact that the minor forest produce (MFP) is considered the lifeline of landless and marginal peasants besides forest dwellers.
Most of them depend on the produce for sustaining themselves for six to seven months a year. The period between March and May is the peak season for collecting Mahua flowers which is the raw material for making country spirit.
Surai Majhi, a resident of Masinakathie village in Suliapada block, said forest dwellers and peasants are deprived of minimum support price of the yellow flowers due to lack of marketing facilities by the State Government. Traders from Angul, Sundargarh, Balangir and other parts of the State buy the flowers at cheaper rates, he added.
Another Mahua flower collector from Podadiha village Sukdev Singh alleged that despite several demands, the Government is yet to fix MSP for the produce.
The earning from the sale of dried Mahua flowers is meagre due to the interference of middlemen. Though the distress sale of Mahua has been a regular affair over the years, it is yet to draw the attention of the district administration, he said.