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Land and water are the two most important natural endowments but they are finite. However, with judicious mix of interventions like development of irrigation facilities, application of improved and modern agricultural practices and creation of other income generation activities based on non-destructive use of locally available natural resources, the possibilities of creating dependable wage labor can be enhanced. The initial entry point activity would be to create awareness among the local people about their latent strength, availability of natural resources and potential of using them on sustainable basis by technological upgradation. Broadly, this may be achieved by developing the hardware of the system comprising of physical activities eg. water harvesting structures, drinking water facilities, common facility centers, village level processing units, storage units etc. On the other hand, interventions like raising awareness, bridging credibility gap, confidence building, soliciting meaningful participation of the local communities and empowering them, creating income generation opportunities through skill development etc would constitute the software of the system.

50% of the workforce working in forest plantations are women and 70-80% of mandays are used in collection of NWFPs, fuel, fodder by tribal and rural women.
-ICFRE, Dehradun (2000)

Keeping in view that for the poor communities, economics precedes ecology and conservation and in tune with their priority there has to be a sharp focus on productivity enhancement so that they can reap better economic returns. For those who possess land, a programme is initiated to upgrade the productivity of the agriculture system by land shaping, constructing stop-dams, tube wells and making available to them other inputs for better crop husbandary practices, so that the land under rainfed condition is transformed into double cropped or in certain cases even triple cropped land. Enhancing the productivity of the land provides good harvest as well as gainfull employment round the year. All these on-farm activities can be adopted as a package for improving the socio-economic conditions of the people who otherwise practice subsistence agriculture. For landless persons off-farm activities leading to income generation can be devised by using forest biomass and other resources. In the first category, activities like NWFP collection, rope making, honey collection, nursery raising etc can be considered, whereas in the latter category schemes like poultry, piggery, mushroom cultivation, shop-keeping, grocery etc.can be envisaged.

NWFP with their attendant instrumentalities play a meaningful role in bringing sustainability to the system because the employment generation from this enterprise is around two million persons year, which is approximately half of the forestry sector, NWFP related activities take care of both the unemployed as well as underemployed and NWFP based small scale enterprises can further strengthen the linkage of the socio-economic base on account of :

  • Low capital and low energy requirements.
  • Proper utilisation of local renewable resource and technological know-how.
  • Checking migration from rural to urban areas ; and
  • Being a family activity it provides satisfaction of creation.

These are some of the illustrative and by no means exhaustive interventions, which can provide a conducive environment for socially acceptable and dependable wage labor.


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