Tripura-JICA project turning jhumias into entrepreneurs

Agartala, Oct.28 (ANI): To encourage and turn forest dependent jhumias into successful entrepreneurs the Tripura Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Project has organised a one-and-a-half-month-long training programme in collaboration with the Bamboo and Cane Development Institute (BCDI) here.

Twenty youths from remote areas primarily engaged in jhum activities, but enthusiastic and progressive entrepreneurs have to be identified through the joint forest management committees (JFMC) and sent for vocational training to the BCDI.

The youths went through skill development in traditional bamboo handicraft material making with modern tools for better return focusing on the market demand from outside the state and even the global market.

The aim of the training is shifting the jhumias from their traditional practice of jhum which has devastating effect on the forest and moreover does not produce enough to serve the purpose to give adequate return so that they can come out of the poverty circle and lead a normal solvent life.

Special care has been taken so that the youths most of them tribal are trained in such a trade about which they are traditionally aware of and they are able to get and utilize the raw materials which will available in abandon within their periphery.

Keeping this in mind bamboo handicraft making has be chosen but unlike the tradition, materials stress has been given on making of utility fancy items utilizing modern machinery and tools so that the products can fetch better return.

During the residential training the trainees along with free training by master crafts were also provided free fooding and lodging and a monthly stipend of around Rs 2000 so that their families during their absence get some financial benefit.

Bajana Tripura, a trainee said, "I am taking this training of bamboo as want to work with it. Here we are learning many things from the trainer here and we are using drill, grinder and other tools which we have not used in our house. Earlier we use to harvest the bamboo and just sell them in the market and get Rs 20 or 15 for each bamboo but if we can make these products each of them will sell for at least Rs 500."

Meantime, another trainee Surajit Biswas said: "I have learned making various items over here. I use to study but recently came to know about this one and a half moths training and got a scope here. I have learned to make basket, dustbin, loose paper dustbin, pen stands and various decorative items for house. We enjoyed learning under the trainer. The main advantage is that I have learned to make various items and which will help me to fulfill my aim in life. I can also start a group for manufacturing all these items."

But training is just not the end, the trained youths are provided with required production centre, tools, raw materials and most important market linkages so that they can settle in their trade and as well also engage others in it.

"Under JFMC here the training took place on bamboo and cane but this time we worked mainly with bamboo only. We produced mainly tray, box, lamps and various decorative items. What we have learned here will surely be beneficial for us in the future," said Hirendra Chakma.

The trainees as per their performance were graded and provided material support in the form of tools required to continuing their vocation beside raw material support. Beside this they were given certificates so that it can help them in getting banks loans.

The aim behind the innovative programme is to encourage the trainee to continue their new vocation so that they do not return back to activities which may be harmful to the forest or nature.

"Since sustainable livelihood improvement is one of the main focuses of this project and 21 species of bamboos are available in the forest so resources are available but the value addition is really very important for the people who are really dependent on this forest. So keeping these things in view the project has taken initiative during the last four years in association with the Bamboo and Cane Development Institute furniture making, basketry, bamboo jewelry, bamboo utility products and also bamboo turning products," said G S Raju, CEO & PD Tripura JICA Project.

The training not only develops the skill of the trainees but also gives firsthand knowledge and exposure about the market - for both availability of raw materials and selling their products.

Beside this common community facility centre (CCFC) are being created with latest machinery and equipment at a cost of Rs 6.5 lakh which are managed by groups of clusters of trained artisans.

The material support and tools distribution to the vocational trainees under the Tripura JICA Project is a unique effort by the project in ensuring that the successful trainees continues the trade for which they had gone skill development training under the project.

Moreover, it has been noticed that even after successful completion of vocational training in various schemes the candidates often cannot continue in the trade as are unable to procure tools or materials due to poverty or other reason. Hence under the Tripura JICA Project the initiative of the distribution of tools and raw materials has been taken.

Distribution of tools has been adopted under the Tripura JICA Project to sheer dedication, motivation and entrepreneurship attitude for converting vocational training, which they had undergone, into viable livelihood options of their choice.

The training has highly motivated the youths and given them confidence that they after completion of the training will not only be able to change their life but also help many more like them in the unprivileged remote areas by forming artisan clusters with the tools, machinery and especially the marketing support promised by Tripura JICA Project authority.

Tripura JICA Project has been engaged to help the young generation of the villages to stand to their own feet using the non-timber forest products (NTFP), and thus help in not only restoration of degraded forests but also provide sustainable livelihoods to the forest dependent communities in order to alleviate poverty.

The Tripura JICA Project a registered society under the name of "Tripura Forest Environment Improvement and Poverty Alleviation Society" during the year 2015 has already trained more than 110 bamboo artisans from various corners of the state.

At present the Tripura JICA Project beside opening three showrooms for selling the bamboo products of its trained artisans has also taken an initiative to create net based market for these products hoping for collecting more such plumes in the near future. (ANI)