AAK Promoting Sustainable Sal Seed Collection in Simdega, Jharkhand: Strengthening Women-Led Enterprises through Training Programs
ISB (Indian School of Business), Sweden-based oil manufacturer company AAK and JSLPS (Jharkhand State Livelihood Promotion Society) collaborated to organize three Sal seeds collection training sessions in Kolebira, Bano, and Jaldega on May 10,11 and 12, 2023 respectively. These sessions aimed to equip nearly 100 women from Self-Help Groups (SHGs) and Producer Groups (PGs) with the necessary skills for Sal seeds collection in Simdega. The training was further enhanced by the presence of representatives from AAK India Pvt Ltd., who shared best practices and experiences from other regions.
Key Takeaways from Training Programs
The training sessions were successful, and the trainers’ expressed satisfaction with the existing practices of Sal seed gatherers in Simdega. However, to ensure the sustainability of the Sal seeds collection, certain hygiene factors were collectively decided upon. These factors are as follows:
- No forest fires: Women were urged not to set fires in the forest during the collection process.
- Selective picking: Only mature Sal seeds were to be collected by hand, while smaller, immature ones were to be left behind.
- Elimination of child labour: Strict adherence to the prohibition of child labour during the collection process.
- Flatbed preparation: Collected seeds should be arranged in a flatbed formation on a dry open space in the homestead instead of forming heaps.
- Controlled burning: Setting low-intensity fires to burn only the wings and outer layer of the seed coat, preventing over-burning and blackening of seeds.
- Proper seed breaking: Sal seeds should be gently broken into four parts using light stones, avoiding over-grinding.
- Sun drying and moisture prevention: Sun drying the seeds and ensuring they remain dry, avoiding contact with water.
- Adequate storage: Store the seeds in a cool, dry place to prevent infestation.
- Preferred packing method: Packing the seeds in PP (polypropylene)bags to ensure proper storage and transportation.
- No adulteration: Strict measures to prevent adulteration with stones, pebbles, dirt, or other foreign substances.
Dissemination and Implementation
These guidelines will be widely circulated in Hindi by the JSLPS cadre and the trainees themselves. Additionally, it is recommended to include these hygiene factors in the self-declaration form to ensure their implementation and accountability.
Price Declaration and Market Credibility
During the training sessions, participants expressed their eagerness to know the purchase price for Sal seeds. They emphasised the importance of promptly declaring the price to encourage collectors to sell their goods to producer groups instead of the open market. Previous experiences with tamarind and other products had raised concerns about the credibility of community enterprises. Therefore, addressing this issue and providing transparent pricing information is crucial to foster trust and strengthening community-based initiatives.
The collaborative efforts of ISB, JSLPS, and AAK India Pvt Ltd. in organising Sal seed collection training sessions have empowered women in Simdega. By imparting essential knowledge and promoting sustainable practices, these sessions contribute to the long-term viability of the Sal seeds collection. It is anticipated that the dissemination of the training guidelines and the declaration of purchase prices will further enhance the credibility of community enterprises and foster economic growth for women of the forest communities.