NTFP Value Addition and Capacity Building

Tribal people harvest Non-timber forest products (NTFPs) for a number of purposes, including household subsistence, maintenance of cultural and familial traditions, cooking, animal feeding, indigenous medicine and healing, and income. The traditional ways of forest utilization are declining due to the influence of modernization. The collection and processing of forest products are really difficult and tedious, but they are not getting what they deserve. They were exploited by the middle man in the local market. The two major challenges for tribal communities are the un-processed forest products, and lack of knowledge about the market.

With the support of the Department of Science and Technology, RGCB’s Tribal heritage project team has conducted an extensive field survey to identify the potential bio-resources, and the scope of value addition in Idukki and Wayanad districts.

Under the Tribal heritage project, RGCB supported the tribal groups with necessary infrastructure and machinery for value addition of different forest products. Value added products like arrowroot powder, shikhakkai powder and processed honey are produced from the NTFP value addition centers established in Idukki and Wayanad districts. Vanasree bamboo craft and NTFP processing unit, Uppukunnu, Udumbanchola Grama Panchayath, Idukki District and Astra tribal society, Makkimala, Thavinhal Grama Panchayath, Wayanad District are the two community enterprises established for the value addition of NTFPs.

Lemongrass is copiously growing in the Western Ghats region of Kerala mostly in Idukki and Wayanad Districts. Lemongrass oil extraction is a long-standing custom among the tribal communities of Idukki and Wayanad Districts. However, the tradition of extracting lemongrass oil is diminishing among the tribal communities. The project team has identified the major reasons for curtailing the lemongrass oil extraction such as low yield, lack of process or technology improvement over the years, difficult to meet energy expenditures, low economic return, etc. The RGCB tribal heritage project team has rightly intervened to improve the traditional method of lemon grass oil extraction with scientific, technical and design interventions.

Haritha Essential oil unit, Valad, Thavinhal Grama Panchayath, Wayanad District and Fresh grass oil unit’, Varikkamuthan, Idukki-Kanjikuzhy Grama Panchayath, Idukki District are the two community enterprises established for this purpose.

We have analyzed the constituents of the Lemongrass oil extracted from the wild samples. The major constituents are as follows:

Citral A 36.73% Total Citral content- 77.96 %
Citral B 41.23%
Geranyl Acetate 4.49 %
Isoneral 1.63%
Caryophyllene 1.58%
Sulcatone 1.01%