<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tribal youth from Melghat have now been trained to prepare craft and furniture items out of Lantana camara, a type of forest weed. This is a significant boost, not only for the tribals, but also for the forest department since Lantana camara (referred to as Raimuniya in Hindi) is a weed menace for forest land and does not allow local grass species to regenerate.Lantana camara is spreading fast in central India, resulting in drastically reducing the availability of grass in the forest. It has also affected the fodder availability, thereby contributing to the livestock management crisis in central India. Every year, the state forest department undertakes a drive to eradicate the lantana on a mass scale.To that end, Nature Conservation Society, Amravati (NCSA), in collaboration with Satpuda Foundation (SF) organised a workshop for tribal youth. The local tribal have been trained to use the same lantana to prepare craft and furniture for self-employment. President of Satpuda Foundation Kishor Rithe said that the first batch for training session started on October 2 at NCSA’s Muthwa community centre with the financial assistance of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Around 31 participants from Nanduri, Raksha, Bori, Kotha and Chunkhadi have been trained.Somaji Jamunkar and Bhanu Raju Jamunkar, both from Chunkhadi village situated in the core of Melghat Tiger Reserve have five acres of agriculture land each who trained in the first batch. Their first crop — soybean and jawar — was wiped out due to the rains. So Somaji and Bhanu hoped that the train would help them with a alternative livelihood. Similarly, Priya Sundarlal Mawaskar and Neeta Chironjilal Dhande from Nanduri village told felt that this would be a more comfortable mode of livelihood rather than hard labour.Nishikant Kale, President of Nature Conservation Society added that it was due to the initiative by Satpuda Foundation trainers Jaisingh Dhurve and Fagulal from Matkuli, Pachamarhi that the workshop was a success.District Collector Abhijit Bangar and CCF (Wildlife) Sreenivasa Reddy also visited the training camp. Rithe said that furniture making has previously proved to be successful in Pench Tiger Reserve of Maharashtra as well as Madhya Pradesh and Satpuda Tiger Reserve in Hoshangabad district of Madhya Pradesh. The experiment has provided permanent employment to around 78 families in the Satpuda Tiger Reserve.

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Lantana weed provides livelihood for tribals of Melghat