Ms. Eswari is one among 700 tribals who collect minor forest produce such as herbs and seeds. Earlier, the collected produce was regularly sold to a middleman in Kuppam, who in turn sold them to pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies for a higher price.

V. Eswari, an Irula tribal of Kangundhi village near here, plans a bigger celebration this Pongal thanks to the intervention of National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) officials who have helped her increase her income.

Ms. Eswari is one among 700 tribals who collect minor forest produce such as herbs and seeds. Earlier, the collected produce was regularly sold to a middleman in Kuppam, who in turn sold them to pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies for a higher price.

When the NBA authorities came to know about the village, they formed Biodiversity Management Committees in the village under the supervision of the Andhra Pradesh State Biodiversity Board. They also identified the Kaigal Self-Help Trust in Kaigal village, promoted by the Krishnamurthi Foundation of India, which is involved in making eco-friendly natural products. They held discussions with the Trust, who assured them that they would buy the produce from the tribals and pay them according to the market rates.

Balakrishna Pisupati, The Chairman of NBA, said more than 35 different herbs, seeds and bark, including soap nut seeds, neem seeds, and gooseberry and honey were collected by the tribals of Kangundhi in a year, assuring them of revenue for the entire period.

Dr. Pisupati said: “The purpose of enacting the Biological Diversity Act is to ensure that communities and local people who have worked hard for generations, reap the benefits of conservation, and profits made using biological resources are shared fairly and equitably with those managing and conserving the resources.”