The need for an Alternative Livelihood Project -
Baseline surveys show that the people here, especially the women, either opportunistically work for daily wages in larger agricultural fields, or more commonly collect dwarf date palm fronds from the forests to make brooms to sell. Incidentally, this species of palm is also consumed by wild herbivores such as elephants, gaur, sloth bear, sambar and others.
To harvest these seasonal grasses, women have to venture into the forests several times a week, increasing the risk of chance encounters with wild animals that also occupy that space, resulting in human-wildlife conflict.
Selling brooms brings in a small amount of income, a sum not nearly enough to compensate for the arduous effort of navigating uneven terrains in the harsh weather, through the forests and risking chance interactions with wildlife. Additionally, this is a seasonal income limited to a harvest period right after the monsoons when the palm grows luxuriantly.
Women for Conservation -
Krishna Murthy, the creative and training advisor for the initiative, handles the product design, and training and skill development. The women have received training on hand-stitching, machine sewing, embroidery and screen printing so far, successfully hand-crafting products like different kinds of bags and masks that are market viable and bringing in revenue from different fronts.
This activity provides a sustainable solution by saving resources for wildlife and helping people with alternative incomes.