OdishaPlus Bureau

Over 2,700 Tribal Women Empowered Through the Initiative

Tribal women in Sundargarh have found a new avenue for livelihood assistance through ‘Khali Patra’ or eco-friendly leaf plate making. There is a rise in demand for the leaf plates & bowls prepared from Sal and Siali leaves by these women using modern machines. As a result, over 2,700 women from Sundargarh have engaged in leaf plate making and become self dependent.

The eco-friendly product is being made as part of Van Dhan Vikas Karyakram (VDVK) under Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) Sundargarh. ITDA further provides necessary training and support to these women which helps them secure a fair price for their product in the market.

“Earlier, tribal women used to prepare leaf plates by hand and sold it locally which did not earn them a proper price. Keeping this in mind, under VDVK, Women SHG members have been roped in to train them prepare eco-friendly leaf plates using modern machines. Market linkage for the same is also being extended by ITDA. In the coming days, the aim is to augment the women’s workplace and convert the cottage trade into a Small & Micro Enterprise” informs Project Administrator ITDA Sundargarh, Ramkrishna Gond.

A total of 18 VDVK units currently function under ITDA Sundargarh. Women SHG members under 9 VDVK units at Balisankra, Tangarpali, Subdega, Lephripara & Hemgir blocks are currently engaged in eco-friendly leaf plate making. Stitching machine, Press and Weighting machine is provided to the women towards the same. ITDA Sundargarh gives necessary training to the women to operate these machines.

“We have 300 members in our VDVK unit. We do everything from collecting the leaves to developing the finished product. We have got machines for making these eco-friendly leaf plates through ITDA Sundargarh so we can sell the product in the market and earn a livelihood,” says Secretary of Subdega VDVK unit, Sabita Majhi.

Women of the VDVK unit collect Sal and Siali leaves from the nearby jungles and dry it under the sun to prepare it for stitching. The leaves are first stitched by hand before going through machine stitching. Then, the leaves are put in the Press to flatten those and make plates and bowls out of them. Using advanced machines has led to increased efficiency and now, each VDVK unit produces over 1,500 plates and bowls per day.

“There is a demand for the leaf plates being produced by us. We sell the same in the local market as well as take those to various fairs and festivals. People have shown a keen interest in purchasing our product. This has also led to an increase in our income,” says VDVK unit member Pinky Meher.

Van Dhan Vikas Karyakram (VDVK) has been initiated to provide new avenues of livelihood for tribal men and women using their traditional knowledge and skills. To strengthen the livelihood of tribal women, they are being engaged in new trades outside the traditional work.