Daringbadi: Fruits, nuts, roots and other parts of trees having medicinal value have become a source of income for many here, especially Self-Help Groups (SHG).
But getting them may not be easy in future, thanks to the rampant felling of trees. “Due to the greed of a few people we are going to lose our source of income,” some SHG members said.
On behalf of the Odisha Jibika Mission, women belonging to SHGs in 25 panchayats like Shraniketa, Siangabali, Bhramarabadi, Danekbadi, Tilori, Budaguda, Kirikuti and Badabanga were trained to collect medicinal fruits and nuts from the forest for use as medicines out of them.
For these women, forest is a treasure trove. They collect goose berries, bahada, haridra, honey, tubers, barks and herbs from the forest and make medicines from them.
However, there are people who collect forest produce endangering not only nature, but also their own source of income.
“Now there is an unhealthy competition among the women. They pluck raw fruits and nuts leaving nothing for those who come after them,” some villagers said.
Some SHGs carelessly damage valuable medicinal trees by chopping them off from the roots.
“If this goes on unchecked, getting forest produce will be difficult next year,” says NGO Jagruti’s secretary Kailash Chandra Dandapat.
A meeting was convened at Bhramarbadi panchayat office to find a solution to this. Sarpanch Akash Pradhan warned that all SHG members must refrain from such acts. “Stringent action will be taken against anyone found involved,” he said.
Unless the administration takes steps to sensitise people about the importance of trees like amla and bahada, they will become scarce, and damage the eco system.
Elderly villagers said there were medicinal trees like ‘Saahaaj’ which were in abundance are rare now as they were felled for their bark. Reckless exploitation of forests must be stopped forthwith, they added.