ANI Photo | Once living in shadows of militancy, women in Assam’s Baksa now finding self-reliance through central schemes

Once racked by violence and in the shadows of militancy, the villages of Assam’s Baksa district are witnessing development and transformation across sectors and spheres as they had seldom seen in previous years. The transformative development and self-reliance of locals in these villages have been brought about through the implementation of several flagship schemes of the Centre.
The villagers here are engaged in various pursuits such as beekeeping, handloom, and making pickles to make themselves self-reliant.
once living in shadows of militancy women in assams baksa now finding self reliance through central schemes – The News Mill
The far corners of the Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR) have, in the recent past, seen the spectre of terror and the sounds of bullets being replaced by a wave of development.
Speaking to ANI, Jayanti Basumutary, a woman from Udhiaguri village near Salbari in Baksa district, said after the signing of the landmark Bodo Peace Accord, the overall situation in the area has changed for the better and many women are showing readiness to be involved in various initiatives under central schemes.
once living in shadows of militancy women in assams baksa now finding self reliance through central schemes 1 – The News Mill
“Around 300 women in our area work at this centre where we make pickles, mushrooms, vermicompost, and soap while also being involved in the nursery. Many women have also participated in the handloom training programme. The government is backing these projects, has given us free training, and provided machines as well as funds. Our income has also increased. Earlier, we rarely got such opportunities to earn a living for ourselves and our loved ones because of militancy. But now the situation has changed for the better. We welcome the initiative taken by the government and thank them for standing with us,” Basumutary told ANI.
The villagers said they were also receiving the benefits of Pradhan Mantri Van Dhan Yojana (PMVDY) under Pradhan Mantri Janjatiya Vikash Mission (PMJVM), which is a scheme specifically designed for the socio-economic upliftment of tribal people, who dwell in the forest areas and largely depend on Minor Forest Produces (MFP) for day-to-day living.
once living in shadows of militancy women in assams baksa now finding self reliance through central schemes 2 – The News Mill
The scheme developed and designed by TRIFED (Tribal Cooperative Market Federation of India), Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs, was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 14, 2018.
The scheme was launched with the potential to scale up the economic activities of tribal people and sustainably transform their livelihood opportunities.
In Assam, the scheme was launched on November 5, 2019, and implemented by APTDC and the Department of Tribal Affairs (Plain) as the state’s implementing and nodal agencies respectively.
The Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship (IIE) has been engaged by the implementing agency as the resource agency to ensure effective and efficient implementation of the scheme, while TRIFED is the sponsoring agency for the project.
once living in shadows of militancy women in assams baksa now finding self reliance through central schemes 3 – The News Mill
In Assam, the scheme has established its presence in 33 districts having 250 functional Van Dhan Vikas Kendra Clusters (VDVKCs) out of 471 sanctioned VDVKCs, comprising 300 beneficiaries each. The total number of beneficiaries registered for the functional VDVKCs is 89,955.
Salbari Van Dhan Vikas Kendra Cluster of Baksa district is one among the VDVKCs where nearly 300 women of the area are involved.
Hemalata Basumutary, another woman from Udhiaguri village, said the women were now producing traditional handloom products while ensuring premium quality.
“We are very happy with the initiatives of the government towards the upliftment of women. We are planning to sell our products in the global market. Every woman involved with this should get bulk benefits and earn more. With more help from the government, we can even expand our units. We are grateful to the government for helping us find our feet,” Hemalata told ANI.
once living in shadows of militancy women in assams baksa now finding self reliance through central schemes 4 – The News Mill
The villagers were imparted training in a bid to upskill them in these trades. They prepare different products including jams, pickles, spices, and juices, among others, and sell them at local markets by enlisting participation in exhibitions and through the brand TRISSAM.
Like Salbari Van Dhan Vikas Kendra Cluster, Barbari is another Van Dhan Vikas Kendra Cluster in the Baksa district where more than 300 women are engaged in producing wild honey and beekeeping.
Dipali Mushahary, a resident of Barbari Saibari village of Baksa district, also expressed her happiness at finding a dignified source of living.
“More than 300 women of 38 SHGs (self-help groups) work at this centre. Here, we make pickles and honey. Also, the majority of families in this area are engaged in beekeeping. Our income has gone up. At my house, there are 10-20 boxes of honey bees and we sell the honey that we produce at this centre. We got plenty of help from the government in settling down to a secure livelihood. They also facilitated loans for us,” Dipali told ANI.
Renu Boro, another resident, said her income grew steadily as she started working in the Van Dhan Vikas Kendra Cluster.
“Women from many remote areas, who came here, are now self-dependent. Earlier we worked in paddy fields. But now I am into the packaging of honey bottles in this Kendra,” Renu said.
Ashtami Medhi from Bishnupur village near Barbari said the locals here have been engaged in beekeeping for the past five years. “There are 22 families in our village and all are engaged in beekeeping. We request the government to help us more so that we can expand our beekeeping activities,” she told ANI.
Rekha Madahi said many more poor people in the locality are also involved in beekeeping.
“Every week, we collect at least 1 kg of honey from each honey bee box and sell it at a rate of Rs 400-500 per kg. Our income has now increased to Rs 1000-1200 per week. Earlier, militancy hurt progress and peace in our village but now we have found happiness as well as peace of mind,” Rekha told ANI.
Nitul Medhi, field coordinator of Pradhan Mantri Van Dhan Yojana (PMVDY) in Baksa district, said militancy in the Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR) has been consigned to history and the region was now on the path of development.
“There are 18 Van Dhan Vikas Kendra clusters in Baksa district and each of them employs about 300 women. Across villages, women are engaged in beekeeping and they supply the raw material to this Kendra where one production unit has been set up. Bottling, levelling, and processing (of honey) are done here. We sell our products to TRIFED, IIE, and local markets. The mindset of people here has changed as well,” Nitul told ANI.
once living in shadows of militancy women in assams baksa now finding self reliance through central schemes 5 – The News Mill
The villagers of Barbari said they have received training, financial support, and guidance for beekeeping activities. “Such efforts have led to increased honey production and improved livelihoods for our beneficiaries,” a villager said.
Honey, which is procured from Barbari VDVKC, is one of the highest-selling products of TRISSAM. Barbari village is known as the Bee Village and the tribals of Barbari are active beekeepers and have been producing honey for generations. However, they did not have the means earlier to process and package it properly or sell their produce in the market. A total of 302 beneficiaries, across 30 SHGs, are members of this VDVKC.
The beneficiaries are collectively engaged in beekeeping. The scheme PMVDY, under PMJVM, has helped them to set up modern honey processing and packaging units while also enhancing the quality and quantity of honey produced. They have started opening their own business and are supporting their households through their earnings.
The honey that they produce is also available in packs of 250 gm and 500 gm under the brand TRISSAM.
The initiative has been a success, as it has not only improved the livelihoods of the tribal community in the Baksa district but also increased the availability of high-quality honey in the market

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