New Indian Express reports on the positive impact of this program. Following are some excerpts.

… today tribal villagers of Panguda, Tamuisingi, Kanda Parsamba and nearby areas in Gumma block, adopted under the Orissa Tribal Empowerment and Livelihood Project (OTELP), are a content lot.

… when a survey was initially conducted in these villages, it was found that despite good production of pumpkin and jackfruit in the area, the economic condition of people remained poor.

As the villages are located in hilly terrain without proper communication facilities, marketing was a very difficult proposition in this part.

And, taking advantage of the backwardness of the area, people used to visit the villages during harvesting season and purchase the produce from individual households on piece-term basis.

Since the villagers had no idea about the use of a weighing machine, they used to sell the produce at throwaway prices.

Things changed when Marketing and Reach Team (MART), an organisation specialising in marketing with help of OTELP motivated the villagers to learn the benefits of collective marketing and sell the produce using a weighing machine.

“Though initially there was some reluctance to break away from the traditional practice, with persuasion, the villagers agreed,” said Gopabandhu Das, project officer, OTELP, Gajapati.

The villagers then contacted a number of traders, in and around Paralakhemundi and agreed to sell the produce to … who offered the highest price for jackfruit – Rs 4.05 per kg.

Pumpkin was sold to … who offered Rs 2.50 per kg.

Initially, 35 households, mostly women, participated and brought the produce to a common place. They sold 30 quintals of pumpkin for Rs 7500 and 23 quintals of jackfruit for Rs 11,500 and distributed the money among themselves.

“After the sale, we realised that in collective marketing, the bargaining power was in our hands. Besides, it gave us an idea about traders’ behaviour, prevailing market conditions and expected future price trend of the product,” …