Bhatli (Orissa), June 7 : Villagers in Orissa, who depend on 'Mahua' flowers for their source of livelihood, are finding it difficult to make both ends meet due to low prices of the flowers.
'Mahua' is the raw material used for making country spirit, which is a big source of revenue for the State Government. The months between February and May are the peak season for collecting 'Mahua' flowers.
The residents of Bhatli village are going through a tough time and are unable to support their families as the Panchayat Samiti has fixed the rate for selling 'Mahua' flowers which they say is quite low.
"We have come here to gather 'Mahua' flowers. For the last two years, the 'Mahua' yield has not been sufficient. We collect 'Mahua' flowers every day with the hope that we will earn something, but unfortunately we have to sell the flowers at a throwaway price," said Kanak Pradhan, a villager.
Almost all the villagers especially women start collecting 'Mahua' flowers early in the morning and continue their work till sunset after which they take the collected flowers home for drying.
"We collect them from here and take them home for drying. After drying them, we sell them to the Mahajan (middleman). We have no idea about the fixed rate," said Bharat Majhi, a villager.
The sub collector of Bargarh district said that this year the rate for the sale of 'Mahua' flowers are fixed at Rs 1500 per quintal and Panchayat Samitees have been entrusted to ensure that villagers get minimum support price for their produce.
"This is a season of 'Mahua' flowers and the government of Orissa has made adequate provisions for the sale of these flowers by the villagers wherever it is produced. It comes under the non-timber forest produced products. The rate of such products including 'Mahua' flowers is fixed by the Panchayat Samitee concerned. The Gram Panchayats are given the responsibility to see all these aspects so that the poor people get minimum fixed support price by the Panchayat Samitee," said Bishnu Prasad Mishra, Sub collector, Bargarh district.
The 'Mahua' flower is one of the non-timber forest products. Most tribals along forested area of Orissa depend on such products for sustaining themselves for around six to seven months in a year. By Sarda Lahangir