India is a country that has traditionally believed in conserving wildlife in tandem with protecting the livelihood of the local communities living around them. Culturally, the communities living in and around the forests have been largely dependent on these forests for their day-to-day activities based on which much of their identities have been established.
This is the story of one such community that live in the Terai region of Northern India.
The Terai is famous for biodiversity rich nature reserves like Corbett Tiger Reserve, Rajaji Tiger Reserve and Dudhwa Tiger Reserve among others, and villages are scattered along the fringe-forest land and wildlife corridors around some of these reserves. Sharing vicinity with large mammals like Elephants, Tigers and Leopards has been a part of their lives for ages.
Some of the villages continue to be dependent on the forest for fuel and livelihoods, which makes them vulnerable to confrontations with wild animals.
WWF-India recognised the need for an integrated approach that linked communities, conservation and livelihoods. This would -
- Enable wildlife awareness & education among communities, and encourage participation in conservation, and
- Protect the local communities from human-wildlife conflict, and promote a long-term resilient sustained source of livelihoods.
Corbett Gramin Mahila Sangathan was set up with women self-help groups from 22 villages in and around Corbett Tiger Reserve, Uttarakhand. As the communities are primarily agrarian in nature, and have an abundance of traditional pahadi recipes, they decided to begin with food & food-based livelihoods.
The women have successfully translated the wisdom of traditional recipes, passed down by their mothers and grandmothers, into little jars of pickles, chutneys and jams that you can now enjoy in the convenience of your home!
As a testimony to what they stand for, their brand is very endearingly called ‘Hameri’ which in Kumaoni language means ‘Humara’ (Hindi) or ‘Ours’ (English). They truly want you to discover, appreciate and savour the flavour of Kumaon!
The all-women group has been selling the homemade savouries locally around Corbett Tiger Reserve for more than 3 years now. Their products have been liked by locals and tourists alike, and they have also received some orders from across the country.
In addition to food & recipe related training, WWF-India has also helped them with training programs in business skills like inventory management, book-keeping and accounting.
And with all of this experience, they are now ready and keen to reach many more people all over India!
The products are carefully hand-processed in small batches, by the local women. The ingredients are either from their farms, or sourced from farmers in neighbouring villages.
And every jar that you buy, will directly contribute towards livelihoods for the local communities, and conservation efforts in the Terai region.
It has been a wonderful experience for us at Little Local, to interact with this group, learn about their incredible work in livelihood and conservation and help them with their marketing efforts.
Please shop for their range of Kumaoni pickles & chutneys here, and we hope you enjoy them as much as we have enjoyed the process of bringing them to you!