How an Indian state is harvesting rewards by trading mines for ...


How an Indian state is harvesting rewards by trading mines for forests

With a green economic plan, Chhattisgarh is now enriching its people rather than mining magnates

Anuradha Nagaraj

In the forests of Bastar in eastern India, indigenous women have been plucking the tan-coloured fruits of the tamarind tree, a tangy staple of Indian cooking that earned them rare profits this year thanks to a bumper harvest.

For decades, mining has eaten into the forests of mineral-rich Chhattisgarh. But as the state moves away from opening coal mines, authorities have introduced measures to boost output of forest goods, from tamarind to cashew nuts and medicinal seeds.

“The setting of a minimum price has meant middlemen and traders have to pay a fair price. Family incomes have gone up,” said Sushma Netam, who oversees implementation of the state programme aimed at promoting “tribal entrepreneurship”...

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