BARIPADA: The Forest department has decided to set up three clusters for direct procurement of sal leaves from local forest dwellers in Mayurbhanj district in a bid to curb exploitation by middlemen and boost livelihoods.
The clusters will come up in Baripada, Karanjia and Rairangpur sub-divisions under the aegis of Odisha Forestry Sector Development Project (OFSDP) in collaboration with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
In the absence of facilities, forest dwellers in the tribal-dominated district usually sell sal leaves to middlemen at throwaway prices. Talking to The New Indian Express on Sunday, Regional Chief Conservator of Forest (RCCF) and Field Director of Similipal Tiger Reserve M Yogajayanand said the clusters will open after a month and members of Vana Surakshya Samiti (VSS) and local women-led self help groups (WSHG) would be involved in the operations.
“The department will take care of procurement while VSS and SHG members will make sal plates. They will also be remunerated for the work,” he said, adding that efforts will be made to establish market linkage both within and outside the district and State.
The construction work for clusters was delayed due to the pandemic but is now in a final state. Financial assistance has already been provided to authorities concerned, to procure necessary equipment and accessories to make the clusters operational, the RCCF said.