Implementation of National Biodiversity Act enables people in two villages in Andhra to earn additional revenue
Some hundred neem trees have changed the lives of people in two villages, Amarchintha in Mahabubnagar district and Revalli in Nalgonda, both in the Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh.
They have helped them earn additional revenue of few thousand rupees, thanks to the implementation of access and benefit sharing (ABS) mandated under the National Biodiversity Act 2002.
Sharing this success story with The Hindu, Sriram Gangadhar of Bio-India Biological Corporation (BIB), Hyderabad, said that a couple of years ago, a Japanese company approached him for developing a food ingredient from neem to be mixed with water.
Generally, Japanese do not drink plain water. Instead, they prefer green tea water, energy water or medicated water. It is because of this habit that he received a proposal from the Japanese firm for developing neem-based water, which can be easily soluble and which gives a typical taste with its medicinal benefits.
Based on the Japanese inputs, BIB decided to work with local communities for collecting the neem leaves without involving any middle men, brokers or traders and under the National Biodiversity Act principles.
The company has identified two Neem rich villages and entered into an agreement with local communities, providing them five per cent on procurement price of leaves.
It is the Biodiversity Monitoring Committee in the Andhra Pradesh State Biodiversity Board that takes care of processes including signing pacts with local communities and collecting leaves.
Mr. Gangadhar says the agreed procurement price is Rs. 100 per kg for the top quality leaf. The National Biodiversity Authority (NBA), which has concluded an agreement with the BIB, gets a royalty of five per cent on the sale of the leaves.
About 2,100 kg of leaf was, so far, exported to Japan. The Indian company is keen on working with many communities on sustainable harvesting methods to meet bulk needs of Japanese firms which are for increasing the quantity of production and expanding the project to a bigger scale with a lot of investment and research.
Similarly, the Neem water has proved to be good for overall health and it is a hit. “This is one of the successful case studies on ABS,” Mr. Gangadhar says, adding that the proceeds of revenue, meant for the villagers, are immediately passed on to them.
Balakrishna Pisupati, NBA Chairman, said that in order to implement the ABS system, there are four different types of forms: Form I — application for access to biological resources and/or Associated Traditional Knowledge; Form II — transferring the results of research to foreign nationals, companies, Non-resident Indian for commercial purposes or otherwise; Form III — intellectual property rights and Form IV — third party transfer of the accessed biological resources and associated traditional knowledge.
The NBA, which till now received over 600 applications, has cleared around 100 applications, Dr. Pisupati said, adding the maximum number of applications, coming under Form III, relate to prior approval for patents.
In respect of the third party transfer of biological resources accessed and associated knowledge, the Authority has signed agreements with 17 applicants.