EMPLOYMENT FOR TRIBALS

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It is really heartening to see that due to concerted efforts of Forest Deptt. the tribal folk in one of the most undeveloped regions of Jhadol and Kotra tehsil of Udaipur are reaping the benefits of various income generating activities.

          The southern most part of Aravali ranges in Rajasthan, this area has remained backward due to its specific topography and inaccessible forest, mostly undulating and with a meagre part suitable for agriculture along water courses or in ‘nahla’ beds. The region is inhabitated by mainly Gameti, Kathodi and Garasian tribals whose income comes through minor forest produce, agriculture and small daily wages in different govt. schemes. Managed by Udaipur Central Forest Division the major geographical part (about 58%) of these two tehsils is under forest. The access to the remotely located villages and hemlets is extremely difficult.

Deputy Conservator of Forests, Udaipur, O.P. Sharma says that realizing the basic necessity of the tribals and availability of  foresty raw material in abundance, he came up with an innovative idea to use it for enhancing the economy of the tribal people. He identified some natural

resources and started its value addition through village management committees who were given training for capacity building and specialization in different activities. This resulted in an increase in the income of the tribals, descreasing their dependence on forests and creating a sort of an attachment with natural resources.

Though a minor farm produce, bamboo is spread all over. Bamboo harvesting was done by Forest Deptt. in the area under it but the non-forest area did not give any return. Then the manufacture of incense sticks started with very primitive machines that produced just one stick at a time. In 2001 a training for some tribals was organized. Later on, a machine that could cut, chip, segregate and roll was procured and it produced 12 sticks simultaneously. Working on these patented machines was easier and safer. Now 14 villages with 114 self-help groups are reaping the benefit and have lucrative income. Sticks with four fragrances- Gulab, Kewda, Mogra and Chandan are being produced. To facilitate manufacturing and storing the product an office and godown have been constructed at Ogna. Last year approx. 25 MT of sticks were produced with an earning of nearly 8 lacs.

So far bamboo was used in its raw form for construction of huts and some agriculture implements. Then the idea of manufacture of bamboo furniture dawned. With the financial help of ICICI Foundation, nine xtribals of this area were sent for a two-month training at Singhdurg (Maharastra) by Conback. Then two master trainers trained 17 other tribals at Jhadol Centre. Another group of 23 is being trained. Now sofa sets, chairs, tea tables, stools, benches and other decorative pieces and show piece items are under production.

          Another project to provide employment to the tribals is dry ginger processing. Normally  produced by the farmers in their fields, it is sold in the local market. The high quality produce does not reach good market places. The area being remote the people are satisfied with whatever they can get for their product. For value addition and reducing the cost of transportation, some solar driers were established in the area with the help of Fuel and Dairy Technology Deptt. of Maharana Pratap Agriculture and TechnologyUniversity, Udaipur where training to tribals for manufacturing dry ginger was given. This reduced the weight of raw ginger by 5 times and made it safe from any insect or fungal attack. Now

along with ginger, some vegetables are also being dried and sold in distant markets. Presently, there are two units at Pargiapada and one each at Talai, Ogna and Chokhlabara villages with 5 SHG working in it. In the last season, 5 MT dry ginger was manufactured that gave an income of 10 lacs to the tribals.

          Establishment of Sitaphal pulp and seed extraction centre is yet another measure to boost the income of tribals of Mewar region. Kotra Bl;ock particularly Devla region is famous for quality Sitaphal. Tribals, mainly Garasiya, collect the fruit from August to October and generally sell this, sitting on the roadside to the passerby. Some of them come to Udaipur to sell it. Presently, some businessmen mainly from Gujarat have started coming to this area and they buy the fruit in bulk at a very low price. Tribals spend their whole day in collecting and cleaning the fruit. Sometimes, when many buyers are not available it is sold at throwaway prices or it gets spoiled. The fruit is in great demand in Gulf countries. To get maximum returns from the product, some tribals of Vaniyavad and Mewado Ka Math were got trained at M.P. Agriculture and TechnologyUniversity, Udaipur. The processing has now started in five more villages, Gogrood, Khila, Merpur, Kyari and Dang.

          The aloe-vera juice project which started in 1996-97 is a great success. Initially started in Atatra and Makodia  villages in Ogna area, the project is in operation in many other villages. Now aloe-vera shampoo and gel are also being manufactured and income through  his project is bringing in lots of money to the tribals.

          The manufacture of squash of mango, jamoon, mahua, karonda, bel and khajoor has added to the income of the tribals.

          The introduction of facilities such as eco-frinedly camping, eco-trekking, water sports, and bird watching and a water fall and herbal garden have made Naal Sandol a great tourist destination. The place, already having a rich biodiversity of forest flora and unique topographical features of the land, has begun to attract more tourists. This too has provided the local people livelihood and exposure to the outer world.

          All these successful projects have opened up new income generating avenues to make the lives of tribals a bit easier.

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