Sustaining Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) Based Rural Livelihood of Tribal in Jharkhand: Issues and Challenges

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"Jharkhand literally means ‘forest region’ where forests play a central role in the economic, cultural and socio-political systems and the entire lives and livelihoods of a majority of the people revolve around forests and forestry. Non-timber forest products (NTFPs) play an important role in supporting rural livelihoods and food security in Jharkhand. The NTFPs have variable abundance according to season and the collection of these NTFPs record variations with the seasonal occupation of the local people. The present study tries to explore the spectrum of rural livelihood contributions of Non-Timber Forest Product (NTFP) to the tribals of Bishunpur block in Gumla district of Jharkhand state. However, the main objective is to assess and analyse the contribution of NTFPs to rural livelihood for both subsistence and commercial use and to identify factors influencing household level of engagement in the various cash incomes. For the present study two (2) villages were selected based on their proximity gradient from the forest. A sample of 50 respondents was randomly selected from two (2) villages Banalat and Haraya of Nirasi panchayat in Bishunpur block of Gumla district. A structured interview schedule was administered on the respondents. The study is based on empirical field work using both quantitative and qualitative data, both from primary and secondary sources. The result of the study indicates that major employment (52%) was generated by the crops cultivation followed by NTFPs collection (30%) and other sectors (18%). Comparing income and employment from various sectors indicates that: (i) NTFPs collection is performed by all households irrespective of income contribution but (ii) income contribution from crop cultivation is highest. The study concludes that local people practice diverse livelihood activities mainly crops cultivation (cereals and cash crops) and livestock husbandry, gather forest products and on/off-farm activities for their survival. For making the rural livelihood of the tribals’ through NTFPs sustainable, the role of institutional arrangement is extremely important in natural resource management (NRM) in general and common pool resources (CPR) in particular. The effectiveness of CPRs as collective strategy is directly linked with community’s concern, commitment, norms and group action to enforce them. Forest resources with shared access right to the members of a group acquire the status of CPR only with their collective involvement in its management. Thus an efficient distribution of existing benefits through collective institutional mechanism is needed. This can add in realizing sustainable income and employment throughout the year. The paper proposes a collective action institutional model drawing example from some success stories from study area."
collective action, institutions, livelihoods