Staff Reporter

Tribals are finally substituting `traditional' salt with iodised variety

  • Traders use salt as barter to procure tribal produce
  • Women SHGs have started to manage grocery shops marketing tribal produce

    BERHAMPUR: Tribals of Gajapati district are being saved from salt-based exploitive barter system still operating in remote areas through marketing of iodised salt by women's Self Help Groups (SHG).

    Every interaction of Gajapati district collector, D.V.Swami with tribals starts with the question whether they are using iodised salt or not. According to a report of the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) in remote hilly tribal pockets of this district iodine deficiency is the reason behind prevalence of mental retardation, dullness, memory loss and goitre. Till now traders having access to tribal areas use salt as a medium of barter to procure tribal produce.

    One `mana' of three kilos of tribal produce is bartered for equal amount of un-iodised crystal salt as since generations due to lack of communication salt was a rare commodity in tribal areas. On an average tribal produce like Mahua, Ragi, turmeric costs more than Rs.15 per kilo while cost of each kilo of salt bartered for it is no more than 2.50 rupees. But it is hard to make tribals switch over to iodised salt due to their traditional beliefs.

    Mr. Swami says under the Orissa Tribal Empowerment and Livelihood Program (OTELP) they have started promoting iodised salt as a medium to improve the brainpower of next generation through the use of iodised salt. "Every one has special attraction for their next generation including tribals and they are starting to substitute the salt they were getting through barter system with iodised salt marketed through the women SHGs," Mr Swami said.