Livelihood & Biodiversity at the Grass Roots: A working model at Kaigal
The Livelihood Program evolved as an extension of the Forest Conservation efforts since many of the plant species contribute to the livelihood security of the tribal communities with whom we worked. Follow us on Facebook for information on our current activities.
Livelihood of forest dwellers is very closely linked to the status of the forest cover and biodiversity. A large number of tribal communities living near forests have immense knowledge on biodiversity based resources and make a livelihood by trading the unprocessed, Non-Timber Forest Produce (NTFP) that they collect. The income they generate from this is very small. KEEP has been working in both biodiversity conservation & income generation, with participation of the tribal and farming communities, for over the last twelve years. The intent has been to empower forest collectors and individuals from the tribal and nearby communities to be able to earn better incomes through introducing them to new skills in value addition, and marketing of local forest and farm produce. The approach has been to do the following:
–Identify the local NTFP’s
–Assess their population status in the wild
–Prioritize on conservation methods
–Choose species for value addition
–Identify/research and arrive at basic value addition processes that are appropriate and meaningful to the people
–Develop products for marketing
The local women & youth especially from tribal villages are involved in all the stages of the process and are the primary beneficiaries. As this initiative grew with greater participation from community members and positive feed- back from buyers, it took the form of an enterprise – Kaigal Trust Self Help Group (KTSHG) – in August 2010, managed and run by the group of young women and youth drawn from the nearby tribal and farming villages. KTSHG is now in its up-scaling phase, by increasing the number participating members, capacity building and training of the group, developing new products and increasing its sales turnover.
Some of the forest produce that are value added include Kalimbi(Carissa carandus), Amla (Phyllanthus emblica), Jamun (Syzigium cumini), Soapnut (Acacia concinna), Soapberry (Sapindus emarginatus), Chigere (Albizzia amara), Makali beru (Decalepis hamilton), Terminalia chebula, T. bellerica, T. arjuna and Baccopa munieri (Brahmi). Herbs such as Mehendi (Lawsonia inermis), Adulsa (Adathoda vasica), Lemon grass, Thulsi (Ocimum sanctum), many fruits and locally cultivated grains such as millets, cereals, groundnut etc. are also used. Fresh honey; beeswax based lip balm and foot cream; hair conditioner and dish wash powder using a variety of leaves and fruits from the forest; Sikakai powder; Amla – Brahmi Thailam; pickles of Kalimbi, Makali Beru and cold pressed vegetable oils are some of the products branded KAIGAL.