This report aims to highlight potential livelihood opportunities for the rural and tribal communities of Bundelkhand. Most of the research work was carried out in Patha region of Chitrakoot district, where ABSSS, our partner NGO has the most extensive projects.

The biggest opportunities for intervention and improvement of livelihood situations are found in agriculture and through non-timber forest produce. It was observed that while a majority of the population in this region engages in agriculture, it is largely an unprofitable venture for them carried out mainly with the pressures of food security in mind. A detailed analysis of the existing cropping patterns and possible alternatives to the same in Rabi and Kharif has been performed and recommendations such as promotion of vegetable farming and mustard cultivation in Kharif and Rabi seasons respectively have been made. Further, aspects such as the need to provide an impetus to scientific agriculture, promotion of organic farming and enhancement of water management programs have also been delved into. Macro-level systemic or social changes that need to occur for the development of the region and how ABSSS can play its role in the same is also discussed.

Besides agriculture, the other thematic area for livelihood intervention in this area is non-timber forest produce since most tribals in the region depend on the same for their daily livelihood. However, the present market arrangements do not allow for any value addition activities to take place in the area and thereby the majority of the benefit from the end consumers of these products in processed or unprocessed form does not reach the tribals. Interventions by means of a commercial institution – ‘Aadarsh’ to organize self-help groups in the region and link the producers/procurers to the market have been suggested. The existence of such a system would promote skill development and several stages of value addition to take place locally, thereby accruing much larger benefit to the local community.

In addition to the above two, potential livelihood opportunities also exist in bamboo-craft, sericulture and honey packaging. An innovative agricultural asset rental system has been proposed in this report which aims at building an important asset for a group of farming families on which they can command rent, and at the same time fulfill a significant agricultural demand of the area with ease.

An attempt has been made to explicitly elucidate the linkages of all possible interventions and potential sub-sectors with the community, their interaction with the prevailing regulatory and social framework as well synchronize the same with the strategies and resource-base of ABSSS.

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