Multistakeholder Baiga Jewellery Initiative finds success in Kanha Tiger Reserve
Community run initiatives are the most sustainable in the protection of landscapes and engagement of various stakeholders. The Baiga jewellery initiative that was started in 2018 is one such example of a sustainable initiative that now spans across 20+ community members in villages situated in Mukki and Khatiya regions of Kanha Tiger Reserve.
The involvement of multiple stakeholders in this landscape makes this initiative a success. This initiative has been a continued partnership with the Forest Department & community members.. Kanha Forest department was the one to initiate the livelihood programs and invited Last Wilderness Foundation to work with the Baigas. Apart from making it a fantastic opportunity for the community , they have also provided continuous support for seed money to the Self-help groups for procurement of raw materials. Also, the department purchased the jewellery through the Kanha Workers’ Society for selling at the souvenir shops. For making this entire process a successful model, the Forest department has also provided their support through designated Forest Guards supervising these groups.
Since this was a traditional skill, no training was required in the first phase. The second phase involved new designs ,thus a week-long training was done, with about 12 women across 2 villages.
In the last one year, the sales have been approximately 3-4 lakhs. Now the entire project is independently handled by the community. Some of the challenges faced by the community is the reach of raw materials due to remote access. The community is slowly getting their heads over the entrepreneurship model ,instead of just providing labour.
This alternate livelihood has helped the women in refraining from going into the forest and instead spend their time with their family while making jewellery. This handicraft activity is not only helping in sustaining the skill amongst the Baiga women, but now the Baiga men and the younger generation have also taken it up and this helps the family in a bigger way,thus initiation of resolving the problem of migration. These women have also started talking to outsiders like the wholesale dealers, the courier and transport companies etc, which has in turn built their confidence levels.
The points of sale currently are directly from the villages in Kanha, at the souvenir shops in Kanha, , and a few more partners are in the process of making it available online. If you wish to keep the products at your souvenir shop or create experiences for your tourist groups, please write to Ms.Vidya Venkatesh,firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next time you visit Kanha Tiger Reserve, please visit the Forest Deptt souvenir shops to buy their gorgeous Baiga products or even meet with some of the Forest Department staff like the amazing Ranger Smt. Sita Jamra.