Tribal women of Mizoram are earning well by making plates of Betel Leaves
Betel Leaf plate is eco-friendly.
The tribal women of Mizoram are making themselves financially strong these days by making plates out of betel leaves. In fact, in Mizoram, the area left fallow after jum farming is now being cultivated on a large scale for betel nut.
It has also become very popular among farmers, especially in Kolasib and Rengdil districts. One of the primary reasons for this is its growing demand in the local market and the little post-harvest processing required. Along with this, the possibilities of export plates made of betel nut leaves in the neighboring state of Assam are also very high.
Another reason for the popularity of betel nut farming is to make useful plates from waste. And this trick has not only made the poor tribals self-reliant but has also created employment for them.
Eco-Friendly Disposable Plates
Plastic plates are used a lot in weddings, parties, worship, and festivals. After use, they are thrown in the garbage. It leads to the accumulation of piles of garbage, and these plates do not get destroyed quickly, which is dangerous for the environment.
But now this problem has a solution. One can start making plates from the cover of betel leaves. This work is being done on a large scale in Mizoram. With this trick, waste coming out of agriculture is reduced. Moreover, recycling is also helpful in making the best products. Due to this, poor farmers are getting an opportunity to increase their income.
Because when these plates are thrown away after use, lying in the sun and soil, they gradually get destroyed and become manure. The good thing is that these plates are strong, and food can be easily placed in them.
Betel nut leaves and its wrappers are easily available, so it is easy for the tribals to use them. Keeping this in view, the ICAR Research Complex, Mizoram Center for NEH region has installed motor operated semi automatic machine at Kawanpui Kolasib and Rengdil, Mamit district. It helps to make plates from biodegradable eco-friendly areca nut leaves. These machines were installed by ICAR under the Tribal Sub Plan (TSP).
Self Help Group for Skill Development
Skill development was necessary for tribal farmers, especially women, to make fine plates from betel leaves. To fulfill this objective, two self-help groups namely Kavanpui Mahila Kisan Club (43 members) and Rengdil Gram Sangathan (182 members) were formed in February 2019.
The women in these groups were taught the skill of making plates out of betel leaf wraps. For this the women members were asked to deposit just a small amount in their common bank account.
Plate making process
To make the plates, the women first pick up the fallen betel leaves. Then, the bad leaves are separated from them. Then they are dried in the sun for about a week. After that, after putting them in the plate making machine, 30 and 20 cm. Size plates are made. Since 30 cm in the market. The demand for size plates is high, so they are produced more.
Improving Livelihood of Women
In the last three years, Kawanpui Mahila Kisan Club manufactured 570653 plates and Rengdil Gram Sangathan made 1046639 plates. Under the ‘Waste to Wealth’ initiative of the Tribal Sub Plan programme, women were encouraged to make plates from areca leaves and the results were encouraging. This is not only putting agricultural waste to good use, but it has also empowered women by providing them means of livelihood.
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