Project Report

“Natural Resource Based Sustainable Livelihood”

Project Duration – April 2015 to March 2023

Support Agency: Paul Hamlyn Foundation (PHF), UK.

Implementation Agency: Vidarbha Nature Conservation Society (VNCS), Nagpur, India.

Working Area of the Project

Block: Deori, Dist. Gondia

Block: Armori, Dist. Gadchiroli

Total Villages – 25

Forest area under CFR – 7182.39 Ha

Total Household    – 3209

Population – 14239

Male- 7110

Female – 7129

Tribal Household – 2567

Population – 9451

Male – 4626

Female – 4825

Project Activities

  1. Strengthen the gramsabhas and local level institutions with the right to protect, regenerate, conserve and manage community forest resources.
  2. Capacity building of the community leaders on governance/natural resource management/business planning, marketing and adoption of new technologies.
  3. Develop community base production, collection, processing & marketing systems for livelihood security of the forest dependent communities.
  4. Advocacy and networking through the Vidarbha Livelihood Forum (VLF) platform for engaging in state level processes for policy change and dialogue to create positive environment about implementation of FRA in the Vidarbha region.  
  5. Establishing community institutions such as Gramsabhas & its executive committee under section 4.1 (e) of FRA for planning, implementation & management of common resources. The project intends to reach out in 10 existing (1,117 households covering 4892 population). 
  6. Settings up inland fisheries with 400 families, agriculture development with 7463 household of the previous and next phase villages, tree plantation (bamboo, timber & fruit bearing trees) with 1000 marginalized household. 
  7. Strengthening local governance by section 4.1 (e) committees & Gramsabhas in 25 project villages.
  8. Developing income generation units on tendu leaves, fishery & mahua flowers.
  9. Convergence of resources from various government departments.
  10. Identifying local issues & advocacy at local & state level.

Outcomes of Project

Community driven conservation of forest & management:   

Since the implementation of the Forest Rights Act (FRA), the Vidarbha Nature Conservation Society (VNCS) has been working to strengthen Gramsabhas to implement the provisions of the Forest Rights Act. With the help of MOTA, UNDP, State Tribal Development Department and some donors, VNCS has so far helped more than 200 villages to get Community Forest Rights (CFR). The establishment and strengthening of Community Forest Rights Management Committees (CFRMC) in more than 150 villages helped to develop the Conservation & Management Plans (CMP). Implementation of CMP initiated in 25 project villages in addition to some more villages (75) in adjoining areas. 

A process of recognition of community forest rights vide FRA 206 was initiated in the area of VNCS with more than 200 villages. In the year 2013, a group of 12 villages collected and sold tendu leaves through their gramsabha (a general body of village) for the first time in the country exercising their ownership rights over minor forest produce. Gramsabha conducted open auction in transparent way & maintained record fetching earning of rupees of 1.2 cr. This was applauded & recognized by the then governor & chief secretary of Maharashtra state. This process was facilitated by VNCS & supported by the secretary of Forest & Tribal development (govt. of Maharashtra), minister of Forest & other functionaries.  This was well recognized as a milestone in the process of establishing tribal governance & ownership of many tribal dweller communities for their sustainable livelihood & betterment of their village.

This has grown up to 200 Gramsabhas managing tendu leaves in Gondia, Gadchiroli & Nagpur areas. Thus creating employment and stable financial income through tendu leaves auction annually.

Activities on Forest Management

1. Nurseries

Land nurseries were setup at village Dhamditola & Paulzola (Deori block, Dist. Gondia) & Maushichak, Bhikarmoushi (Armori block, Dist. Gadchiroli) creating 6 lakhs of saplings of various plant species with the help of state forest department and investment of Rs. 49.92 lakhs. Saplings so raised were having various kind of fruit, ecological important species & planted in the CFR area. This has added to diversity of plant species to the forest and density.

2. Tree Plantation

Land nurseries were setup at village Dhamditola & Paulzola (Deori block, Dist. Gondia) & Maushichak, Bhikarmoushi (Armori block, Dist. Gadchiroli) creating 6 lakhs of saplings of various plant species with the help of state forest department and investment of Rs. 49.92 lakhs. Saplings so raised were having various kind of fruit, ecological important species & planted in the CFR area. This has added to diversity of plant species to the forest and density.

3. Natural Regeneration

During the entire project period 25 Gramsabhas took various measures for forest protection including fire, grazing, encroachment, felling of tree, patrolling, awareness, etc. This has resulted in natural regeneration of forest on more than 8000 Ha area with addition of 16,00,000 saplings. This has helped to preserve biodiversity of the area & habitat for wildlife.

Minor Forest Produce (MFPs) Collection & Sell process: 

a. Management of Tendu Leaves under CFR: During the years 2015 to 2023, gramsabhas of all 25 project villages participated in the collection and sale of tendu leaves. A total of 24,194 standard bags were collected during 8 years periods and 13,210 families participated in this tendu leaves collection. Approximately 10,327 women were involved in this activity, out of which 8200 were tribal women.  A total income of Rs 17.12 crores was generated through this. 

In addition to the management of tendu leaves by 25 project villages (PHF). Under the technical assistance of VNCS a total of 71,271 standard bags have been collected and sold by the Federation of Gramsabhas of Deori (Dist. Gondia) and Armori (Dist. Gadchiroli). A total of 1,99,908 members of 49,998 families in 80 Gramsabhas participated in this process, including 1,11,094 tribal women, with a total financial income of Rs 45.19 crores in the last 8 years. Around 3209 families under the project have been included in the group of gramsabhas and since they are selling tendu leaves through e-tender process, the financial exploitation by private & other traders has been completely stopped and financial profit has been made by getting higher rates. 

Out of total income about 10% is expenditure of management cost & rest of the money is distributed to all in the form of collection charges & bonus.

b. Mahua Flower: Tribal women from 3374 families of 25 villages of Gondia and Gadchiroli districts collected and sold about 72,852 tons of Mahua flowers.  They have earned Rs 32.11 crore from this activity. More than 4000 women were involved in this Mahua flower collection process. Due to this migration has been decreased and it has raised their economic standard.
Apart from this, Mahua seeds, Hirda, Behda, Tarota seed, Tamarind & medicinal plants are also sold in the market for additional benefits. 

Water Conservation

The work of soil & moisture conservation is going on as a continuous process with the help of doners, industries & state schemes. The Gram Sabha members carried out water conservation work over 415.56 Ha of 25 villages by utilizing Rs. 7.065 crores. A deepening & ecological restoration of community tanks were carried out in 59 waterbodies in the area. Earlier, these tanks were providing irrigation to an area over 1400 Ha & now it has been increased to 2442 Ha area. It has benefited 1724 direct beneficiary and 6398 indirect beneficiary farmers.

Due to this activity water level has been increased from 30 to 60 feet underground. This has generated 62,900 man days of employment. Now water is available in dug-wells &n bore-wells throughout the year. Earlier the tanks used to be dry up in summer, but now water is available till end of June. It has increased agricultural crop production by 60% & more than 400 farmers are now engaged in vegetable cultivation in over 250 Ha which they are selling in nearby markets. Earlier, 1750 grains were produced per Hectare, now it has increased to 2800 quintals. 

  • During the project period a total of 102 individual earthen bund constructed & repaired by the Department. an investment of Rs. 2.08 crores. 225 Ha of agricultural land is under irrigation. It has help to increase in agricultural production by 20% and more than 1000 farmers have been benefited.
  • Through convergence, a total of 36 farms ponds were constructed by investing Rs.16.64 lacs. It has helped to increase in agricultural production by 10% over 118 Ha, this has also helped for individual fisheries and vegetable production, it has helped to raised their economic status.
  • Under Farm Bunds: new farm bunds were prepared & repaired over 850 Ha about 600 farmers were engaged in agricultural activities. A total expenditure of about Rs. 79.90 Lacs was done to drive this initiative. It has helped to increase about 15% production in agriculture. 
  • Dug wells for the storage of water were constructed in the field of 80 families of farmers at the cost of Rs. 2 cr. provided by state government, this has helped irrigate around 140 Ha of agriculture land resulting in increase of crop yield particularly paddy & pulses. 
  • During 2015 and 2023, 13 cement nala bunds (CNB) were constructed in the area of 6 villages by covering 170 Ha of agricultural land.  It has helped in irrigation and rising the groundwater table. It has also helped to increased level of wells & bore wells of those villages. It has also helped to increased production of agriculture produce by 20%. It has benefited financially to farmers. Expenditure for this was spent of Rs. 79.57 Lacs.


Out of 25 Gramsabhas 21 are doing fisheries business in 42 ponds, since the inception of the project till now a total of 3150 kg of fish seed has been released in the ponds. Gramsabhas has invested Rs. 20 lacs to purchase these fish seed & other equipment’s. A total of 502 Qyntel of fishes were produced in this business, from which 2102 families received a financial benefit of Rs.98.01 lacs. Gramsabhas promoted seeds of local species such as rohu, katla, mrugal, etc. Fishes were made available to the villagers at low cost for consumption resulting in better nutrition supply.

 Due to their own hatchery, villages are getting pure breed of fish varieties and also saving investment cost. Funds were made available by PHF & community contribution. 2 hatchery units were established in Mograband method at Dongartamashi & Paulzola by spending Rs. 1.65 lacs & 1 lacs respectively.

In Dongartamashi hatchery establish in 2016. Seed production started from 2017 onward. Every year, between 400 to 500 kg of fish seed is produced which can fetch around Rs.500 per kg. These are then sold to 12 villages. Till date more than 2500 kg fish seed has been produced in this unit. Up till now they have received 12 lacs & every year 10 to 12 people are getting employment in fishery session. 40% amount is spend over labor component. They are getting 1.5 to 2 lacs net income annually & also getting good quality fish for self-consumption. 

The work of Paulzola hatchery unit has been completed & now Gramsabha itself will produce 300 to 400 kg of fish seeds & sell it to other Gramsabhas & get an income of 2 to 3 lacs per annum, besides other villages will also get good quality fish seed. 

Development of forest & agriculture land, water conservation
through convergence from state schemes & CSR

Under MGNREGA scheme and through Convergence, water and soil conservation works over 1349 Ha have led to overall agricultural development and more than 2000 farmers have been benefited. It has helped to increase agricultural production up to 40%. During 2015 and 2023, nurseries, tree plantations, deepening of community (EX-Proprietary) tanks, leveling of agricultural fields, farm bunds, farm tanks, forest tank, dug-wells, hatcheries, godowns for MFPs, oil expeller, LPG, etc. have been carried out through Convergence. Overall total investment is of Rs. 22.35 crores was made under project by various government schemes. 

  • MFPs Godown: Under state scheme like Human Development Mission Rs. 18.31 lacs  at village Dhamditola (Dist. Gondia) & Rs. 74.35 lacs was provided to construct godowns at Ganeshpur, Darli, Dongartamashi and Naroti Chak (Dist. Gadchiroli) for storage of forest produce. It will help to get higher price when there is demand of this produce. 
  • Wooden Oil Expeller: Presently Tribal communities selling Mahua seeds for Rs. 7/- per kg. Instead of that if oil has been extracted from these seeds, they may get Rs. 150 per liter.  By spending Rs 8.92 lacs a processing unit is being set up at Dhamditola, Deori. This would facilitate getting pure oil extracted to the households of around 25 villages and also get oil from various seeds available in the wild which has industrial and edible value. 
  • LPG (Gas): By the efforts of VNCS in the year 2014-15 when there was no scheme like Ujjwal Gas Yojana, LPG gas sets were made available from under TSP & Forest Department by investing Rs. 25.65 lacs. Today 95% of households are using LPG & they are saving about 22,500 metric tons of forest wood annually. This has contributed to natural regeneration of forests, besides it has help to improve women’s health & time spent on cooking is being used for agriculture, business, children’s education & use for other purposes. 

Policy dialogue with Govt. Departments

VNCS has core competence in establishing dialogue with state administration & policy makers. This has resulted in bringing favorable changes in government programs to support & enhance forest based livelihood. As a result, following GRs were issued by state government of Maharashtra.
  • Government Resolution (GR) dated 24th June 2015 by the Tribal Development Department regarding the constitution of CFRMC and its functioning guidelines.
  • GR dated 28th August 2015 by the Tribal Development Department regarding the Formation of District level Convergence Committee. 
  • GR dated 30th Nov 2021 was taken to approve CFR Gramsabhas as implementation agency of the Rojgar Hami Yojna & in which VNCS and VLF are playing an important role. Due to this GR, 21 out of 25 gramsabhas have been registered on the portal of Rohyo and the planning of Rohyo work has been submitted to the government department. 
  • GR dated 12th September 2022 regarding formation of block-level convergence committee & change of State & District-level steering committee for implementation of forest conservation and management plans of collective forest rights. 
  • Government resolution by FD on record of rights notification process which is a key logical conclusion of the forest right recognition process under the FRA. 
  • CTD Established: Executive Director of the VNCS, Mr. Dilip Gode held a meeting with former Agriculture Minister and MP of Maharashtra, Mr. Sharadchandra Pawar on the problems being faced in the implementation of Collective Forest Rights (CFR). Advocacy was done under the leadership of Gramsabha regarding the problems faced in the implementation of collective forest rights and various works involving integration of forests and farming into agriculture sector. Keeping this in mind, in order to solve the problems, Yashwantrao Chavan Foundation, Tribal Training and Welfare Centre has been approved and started at the state level.  
  • Convergence meeting was organized at the district level to solve the problems arising in MFPs collection and tree plantation and other works through convergence. Mr. Dilip Gode (ED VNCS), District Collector, Chairman of District Convergence Committee, Deputy Collector (Rohyo) & Assistant Conservator of Forest Gondia were present in this meeting.
  • Through the platform of Vidarbha Livelihood Forum (VLF), advocacy was done to create a positive environment for the implementation of FRA, to participate in the state level process for policy change and coordination.

Other Achievements

  1. The project team formed with 275 executive members of CFRMC in 25 villages. They are keeping records, minutes of the meeting, attendance register, transit passes, bank account, income & expenditure details, collection and sale of minor forest produce (MFP) & other transactions.
  2. The Livelihood Plans/Conservation & Management Plan for 25 villages have been prepared & are in the process of implementation with the support of govt. Departments and village development fronts.    
  3. District & Vidarbha Level Federations of Gram Sabha have been formed dealing into management of MFP collected form CFR area. That helped fetch highest rate to their product and stopped financial exploitation of the villagers by private traders.   
  4. A model was setup by 25 villages through their collective process of managing tendu leaves & Mahua flowers, Fishery, Agricultural Development & Convergence of state schemes. This is also a model of community conservation of forest resources and wildlife.
  5. Capacity building was done for 3006 community leaders through 115 workshops on NRM & Livelihood Management.
  6. A total of 550 leaders were trained in marketing & management of minor forest produce during the project period.   
  7. Till date a total sum of Rs. 22.35 crores have been mobilised through convergence framework within the MGNREGA-FRA connect. This has also been mobilized from various schemes of the line departments.
  8. Total income generated during the project period by MFPs & Fisheries – Rs. 78.28 crores
  9. Total number of participants benefited in the activities under the project was – male 19938 & female 11742 
  10. Upliftment of Community: works in Forestry, Agriculture, water & soil conservation, works have been increased & financial income of Gramsabhas have also increase. Tribal Children use to go in different cities for higher education. Living standard & awareness has been increased about specially Environment & various acts such as FRA, PESA, RTI etc. as also increased. These communities are now transforming by economically, socially & politically.