DS Group Enhances Skills of Rubber Tappers of Tripura for a Sustainable Livelihood

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Agartala: The DS Group is supporting the Rubber Tapper’s training project in Tripura under its CSR initiatives. Unskilled and marginal tribal farmers are trained for scientific ways of tapping and processing rubber plants. A scientific approach to tapping ensures better yield and is less damaging to the plant. This ensures higher incomes for longer periods of time. Farmers are also taught how to prevent plants from getting a fungal infection – thereby instilling the idea that a healthier plant that lives longer is better for their income.

The project aims to improve the socio-economic status of semi-skilled farmers by more sustainable livelihood and increase the yield. The project will also facilitate the employment opportunity for the trainees by liaising with employers in the region. Speaking on the occasion, Anshu Dewan, Director, DS Group said, “Our biggest achievement has been to instil values of sustainability in the minds of the tribals. The idea that a healthy rubber tree – when scientifically tapped for rubber – not only gives higher yield but also long term income security was an important milestone. As an organisation, DS Group is committed to empowering local communities to become economically viable. By augmenting natural resources and skill development, we expect to contribute towards increasing the quantity of rubber production in the State too.”

Tripura is the second largest rubber-producing State in India after Kerala, according to the cultivation and quantity of produce. It was also one of the first few States to have commercially adopted rubber cultivation in NE India way back in the 1960s. However, due to a lack of skilled labour and heavy rains, the State misses out on about 20 per cent of the tapping days in a year. The DS Group in partnership with DISHARI has undertaken the task to build the capacity of people involved in Rubber Tapping and processing. The training module is a combination of theory and on-site practical, followed by assessment of the trainees who then are awarded a certificate post successful completion of the training.

Post the first module of training, beneficiaries like Shukla Sen Shill and Krishnan Baidya acknowledged, how the training had enhanced their skills as rubber tappers. Convinced by the benefit of the programme, they decided to refer fellow tappers to enrol for this training. Ashit Ball, a reverse migrant from Gujarat, said, “I owe it to the DS Group for getting a job as a rubber tapper during the current pandemic situation. The training has helped me develop knowledge about the sector and trained me with the required skill set.” Taking advantage of the programme, which encourages women to enrol for the training, Prathana Shil, a housewife took the training. She said, “Not only will it boost my confidence and self-esteem, but will also help me find a job that will generate more income for the family.”

With focused training of tapping rubber during monsoon season, the beneficiaries will have a sustained form of income generation. So far around 800 tappers have been trained in 32 trainings since the inception of the programme. The project has helped double the income of the tappers as compared to what they used to earn before they attended the training programme. Further, these modules will create a pool of certified trainers, who would have the option of facilitating similar programmes.

The DS Group has weaved Corporate Social Responsibility as an integral part of its Business Objectives and is running many livelihood development programmes across the country.