The story of project Madhuban in the Kanha Achanakmar Corridor
For Shivnath Baiga from Aurapani Village in Chattisgarh and Chaitram Singh Dhruve from Manjhetola, Madhya Pradesh - the forests are family. The roots of old forest trees know are keepers of childhood secrets, the streams flowing by are providers of water and moments of peace and even smaller elements like lichens, ants and bees are intrinsic to the web of life.
These natural comrades provide a range of resources like Mahua, Amla, Honey, Chiraunji, Harra and Tendu Pata, which people who call the forest their home can collect for household consumption and to earn a living.
WWF-India, as part of its project Madhuban, has taken up the initiative to empower community members like Shivnath and Chaitram from the Kanha Achanakmar Corridor to monitor collection of resources, develop sustainable use and monitor protocols to establish market linkages for the produce. People like Chaitram and Shivnath from 13 different villages were trained on harvesting Non Timber Forest Produce or NTFP like Mahua, Chironji, Harra, Mahul Leaf and Bahera besides sustainable practices of honey collection. “WWF-India has provided training from external organizations and equipment for sustainable honey harvesting. Through this initiative, we managed to collect 200 kg of honey, which was sold at the rate of Rs. 200 to local purchasers ”, says Shivnath.
A committee has also been set up to monitor the record of NTFP collection from the forests. This will enable the community members to engage with others involved in sustainable harvesting, like the Maikal Sahad Sangrahak Kalyan Samiti – that has been formed by WWF. WWF has also provided handholding support to the Samiti in receiving organic certificate for honey collection from the Chhattisgarh Certification Society, India for Forestry and Agriculture (CGCERT).
Chaitram, Shivnath and others living along the Kanha Achanakmar Corridor in Central India, find their main source of livelihood in Non Timber Forest Produce (NTFP) collection and sale. Urban and high-income buyers in their interest of consuming natural products could enhance the incomes of such natives. However, the growing demand coupled with unsustainable harvesting practices may lead to scarcity and loss of livelihoods in future. To this effect, WWF is sensitizing community members towards the importance of forming associations and their formal recognition for maintaining sustainable harvesting practices in the long run, enabling easier access to loans and other state aid schemes and programmes.
Currently, WWF-India is undertaking the compartment survey to locate the number of hives from where such beneficiaries collect honey and analyze the total amount of honey to be collected this season. This study will further allow the WWF-India team to assess the various kinds of flowering plants in and around the hives and also understand the positive impacts of sustainable harvesting and collection of NTFP. This is a crucial step in determining the quantity of honey available to such communities.
Further, a marketing plan will be devised and executed in order to boost the economic welfare of the people in Kanha Achanakmar Corridor like Shivnath, Chaitram and their villages.