Available aplenty in Adilabad's agency tracts, the potent herb ‘bavancha' (Psoralea corylifolia) can become a source of good supplemental income for tribal families. The demand for its seed has rescued hundreds of Gond, Kolam and other primitive tribe families in Sirpur (U), Jainoor and Narnoor mandals from the dire straits they were in following failure of crops last season.

This annual herb, used mainly to cure skin disorders like leprosy, leukoderma and psoriasis, grows along the perimeters of agriculture fields. A survey of its area-wise abundance can give a true picture of its potential to provide supplemental income.

Only about a month ago, the tribals came to know of the ‘value' of the wild bavancha, also known as bakuci, vakuci and babchi, thanks to the ‘interest' shown by local traders in the purchase of the seed. The first ones to start collecting the black seed were the aboriginals from Sirpur (U) mandal. “We woke up to the fact only when tribals from Sirpur came here to collect the seed. We found the traders offering Rs. 20 to Rs. 25 for a kg of seed which saved us from the hardships had been facing,” recalls Mesram Ladubai of Daboli in Jainoor mandal who started collecting the seed only recently like her compatriots. Within a few days of coming to know of the demand for ‘bavancha', all the 150 tribal women in the village started collecting the seed to be sold to traders in Jainoor. An individual collects about 5 kg seed every day on an average working part time.

Unprofitable

As the Gonds and Kolams cultivate a variety of food crops in their small holdings, cultivation of the larger ‘bavancha' will not be possible for them. Moreover, the low yield of seed by weight per plant also makes commercial cultivation an unprofitable venture . The ITDA at Utnoor can facilitate marketing of the seed for the benefit of poor tribals.