Indian School of Business (ISB), in association with the Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA),today organized a district-level workshop in Malkangiri, Odisha,on bamboo harvesting, business orientation and management plan. Malkangiri, an abundantbamboo beltin the state, is one of the pilot locations for the Forest Economy initiative by ISB-BIPP that aims to build a sustainable forest economy and boost the livelihoods of local communities.
Through the workshop, experts from ISB, ITDA and the Odisha Forest Department shared valuable insights on the bamboo value chainand discussed multiple important aspects covering the sustainable harvesting & bamboo resources’ management, transportation, processing, delivery, and payment processes in detail.Over 70participants attended the workshop. The GS leaders also benefitted from business planning and operational experience shared bycommunity leaders from Kalahandi’s Mahasabha, a federation of 100 gram sabhas with CFR Titles that have experience in managing their community owned forests and sustainably harvesting Bamboo for sale.
Bal Mukund Bhuiyan, Project Director, District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) and the current District Collector in charge, said,“I am very happy with the progress so far, and it is endearing to see the start of capacity building at the grass-roots level in the district. I am looking forward to the next six months,which will be a big stepping stone in transforming the livelihoods in these gram sabhas. My team and I are geared up to support and enable thistransformation.”
The workshop was divided into three sessions. The first session informed and guided the communities on all aspects of the bamboo sale, i.e. harvest, transport, delivery and payment. The second emphasized on operational planning and policies, such as processes to open Gram Sabhas’ bank accounts, get PAN cards, and register for GST, to name a few. And the last session focused on sharing best practices, for which leaders from the Kalahandi Mahasabha – a federation of about 100 GramSabhas from the Kalahandi district, attended the workshop and addressed the participants on value addition, operational processes as well as best practices.
Prof. Ashwini Chhatre | Executive Director – BIPP, Indian School of Business, said, “Over the next few months, we should be able to see a new and successful business model emerge that will be exemplary.The District Collector has been very supportive; he & his team have played a key role in facilitating secure tenure to the gram sabhas in Malkangiri. Security of tenure provides the required foundation for building a sustainable and robust forest-based economy that will bring in rural prosperity and benefit the industry too.On the industry front, BILT Graphic Paper & Products Ltd. (BGPPL) is forthcoming in extending its support to the gram sabhas in preparing for harvest and sale.”
Industry procurement of Bamboo directly from the community
One of the early achievements of this program has been the market linkages between gram sabhas and industry. During this harvest season,starting October-November 2022 to April-March 2023, BILT Graphic Paper & Products has committed to buyingBamboodirectly from the Gram Sabha.This will mark the first formal sale of the 24Gram Sabhas from Malkangiri, Odisha.
Speaking to the community while attending the session online, Mr. Kunal Shekhar, General Manager, Head of Raw materials & Procurement, BILT Graphic Paper & Products,said, “We are eager to start sourcing bamboo at scale from the gram sabhas in Makangiri. We will support the gram sabhas and communities through the same process.”
ISB hasfacilitated the submission of claims to CFR (Community Forest Resource Rights) Titles of these 24 Gram Sabhas. The claims have been submitted to the Sub-Divisional Level Committee (SDLC). The next step will be approval from the SDLC, submission to the District Level Committee (DLC) and issuance of CFR Titles by the DLC. Security of tenure is the fulcrum that will enable the building of a robust and sustainable forest economy that will immensely benefit the communities & the industry and facilitate sustainable management of forest spaces.
Mr. Pratap Kotapalli, IFS, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), said, “We will use our experience and expertise in training and guiding the gram sabhas for sustainable bamboo harvesting and sale. We are geared up to support in making this new business model happen.”
Mr. Trinath Majhi, Project Administrator, ITDA, said, “This workshop will be very useful to the gram sabhas in preparing for the bamboo harvest, its sale and overall management of business and operations. We are happy for the participation from all the important stakeholders.”
Ms. Podiye Madkame, Community Member, Telrai village, Malkangiri District, Odisha, said, “If the bamboo business becomes successful after CFR, migration from our villages to other states also will stop”.