Decrease in availability of forest produce has affected the Girijans dependant on non-timber forest produce (NTFP) and the government as well as NGOs have to work extensively to provide employment to the Girijans, president of Sodhana organisation and a social scientist P.D. Kameswara Rao, said while participating in the 20 anniversary of Kovel Foundation here on Friday.

He appreciated the Kovel Foundation, run by tribals, in helping the community and a large number of them gain self-sufficiency during its 20-year journey.

However, he stressed the need to provide education, health and food security to the Girijans to bring real empowerment to them.

25 varieties of NTFPs

CEO of Kovel Foundation V. Krishna Rao said 8,500 Girijan families under 250 associations in 15 districts are being helped by the foundation.

Trained

They were trained in collecting and marketing effectively 25 varieties of NTFPs.

The foundation was planning to provide help to one lakh poor Girijans during the next decade.

Quality product

Former vice-chairman and MD of Girijan Cooperative Corporation T. Vijaya Kumar, during whose tenure the Kovel Foundation took shape, recalled how the organisation strengthened itself in spite of facing many hurdles initially and the plan it executed to make gum kariya a quality product and brought a good market. Mr. Vijaya Kumar, who is at present Additional Secretary to Union Ministry of Rural Development, wanted the Girijans to concentrate on the valuable and large number of medicinal plants in the forests.

Books released

President of the foundation D. Pari Naidu presided. Chairman of the trust board Palepu Chalapathi, members Savarram Aavulamma, Jambila Rajayya, Payam Balaraju, Kadagala Mangaraju and Korra Enkanna Dora, senior journalist M. Yugandhar Reddy and others spoke.

Two books on Forest Rights Act, tribal self governance and the Tribal Sub-plan, written by G. Srinivas and M.V.R. Prasad and published by Kovel Foundation were released during the function. The foundation also presented awards to 12 community volunteers and three staff members.

Foodgrains available in forests, medicinal plants, Srivari cultivation, and other programmes being taken up by Kovel Foundation were displayed at an exhibition.

Aid to fishermen

The foundation also handed over Rs. 1 lakh to fishermen of Pedagedda reservoir in Vizianagaram district to purchase equipment.

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