Baripada, May 30 (LocalWire): Forest dwellers who used to sell sal leaf disposable utensils are facing difficult times in the lockdown, as demand for their utensils has dropped due to the closure of fast food stalls.
Pagulu Mohanta, 48, of Tashrada village in Baripada was unable to cater to the needs of his entire family by depending only on agriculture and hence, had a side business of selling sal leaf utensils, through which he was able to earn nearly Rs. 7000.
However, the lockdown has disrupted his sal leaf utensil business as the main market for these utensils used to be fast food and tiffin stalls, all of which have been closed during the lockdown.
Govinda Singh and Raka Singh are dwellers of Dumasah, a tribal-dominated village near Similipal forest in Kaptipada block.
They too were involved in sal leaf article business in Kaptipada and Podadiha, however, their business is now shut down due to the same reason.
They are ration cardholders, but the benefits from the same are not enough to meet the requirements of the entire family, they said.
“We manage two meals a day from the ration given by the government; but Rs. 1000 is hardly enough to procure all our daily needs like mustard oil, soap, cloth and other family requirements.
We are hopeless. From March 24 till now, our business has ceased, and we do not know what we can do in the case of any emergency,” they rued.
“Exports of the sal leaf have also ceased as no traders are unable to arrive here due to the lockdown,” they added.
Swayam Mallick, the Divisional Forest Officer of Baripada said the minor forest produce are being procured from forest dwellers as primary procurement way by Vana Surakshya Samity with a minimum support price.
“They have been procuring particularly 49 minor forest produce (seeds) but no provisions have been made by the government for procuring of sal leaf,” said the DFO.