Nabarangpur: Already suffering at the hands of middlemen, the Kendu leaf pluckers of Nabarangpur have been dealt with another blow by Forest Department as its procurement targets for this year went south.
According to the Department, this season they will procure 10,000 standard bags less than the previous season owing to lack of storage space. The figures available with the Department suggest that there are 13 Kendu leaf godowns available which is not enough when pitted against the volume of collection.
“In 2017-18, the Department procured 50,000 standard bags of leaves. However, as much as 40 percent of those bags are still lying in the godowns. In view of this, the target for the current season has come down to 40,000,” said an official.
With the collection target slashed, the income too will come down accordingly, rued some pluckers.
Financials apart, the pluckers are facing another challenge these days. As the climate remains cloudy, and due to unseasonal rains, the ‘phadi’ (collection center)s are little bit damp, making it difficult for the leaves to dry.
The only good news amidst the gloom being the Department’s announcement of direct money transfer to plucker’s accounts this time – which will effectively sideline the middlemen when it comes to payment.
It may be mentioned here that there are 393 ‘phadi’ centers here that have as many as 73, 000 registered women pluckers. Plucking started in all 10 blocks of the district this April 16. This time, the price per bundle has been fixed at Rs 2.