The 21-day nationwide lockdown to combat the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has turned life upside down for most; Take Arjuni village in Chhattisgarh's Balodabazar-Bhatpara district: Farming has taken a hit and villagers have now taken to collecting mahua flowers.
A woman returns with her children to Arjuni village after collecting mahua flowers. The village's residents are usually dependent on farming, but the lack of rain, coupled with the lockdown has forced villagers and their families to collect mahua flowers. Photo: Avdhesh Mallick
It is the flowering season of the mahua. It is a forest produce that is used for medicinal purposes and for making liquor. Photo: Avdhesh Mallick
Mahua dries in Anjuni village. Approximately 10 kilograms of the mahua flower is sold in the market in a dried form. One family can collect upto 50 kg of the flower on one day. The flower sells for Rs 60-80 per kilo in the market. Photo: Avdhesh Mallick
A tribal villager returns after finishing her task of picking mahua for the day. Another source of sustenance for villagers who do not practice farming, is working as manual labourers under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Generation Act (MGNREGA). Photo: Avdhesh Mallick
Work under MGNREGA, however, has also slowed down because of the disease pandemic. Around 181 residents of the village are yet to be paid upto Rs 65,000 for their work. The current population of Arjuni village is at 800, an increase from 533, according to the 2011 census. Photo: Avdhesh Mallick
Farming took a hit in the village. Around 100 acres of land would earlier be farmed in the village. A majority of the farmers, however, did not sow their lands, fearing losses. The average income of a family in the village was Rs 3,066, according to government data. Photo: Avdhesh Mallick
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.
Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.