Sabui-Grass: A Livelihood Option

January 24, 2014

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Sabui grass or Babui grass is a known crop to the tribal  since long.  There are many legendary stories on this crop ,you can here these from HOs or Sabars in  Chotonagapur Plateau . Bompass ,Boadings’ writings on folk lore of Santhal Parganas  witness close relationship between sabui & tribal of eastern India. Similarly you can have reference to the crop  from  W.W.Hunter’s description on Chotonagpur. However, Sabuigrass came into light during nineteenth century when  the then Government made survey on this grass for feeding  their paper industry . They also attempted to its feasibility  in exporting  in their own kingdom,UK.  A good materials on Sabui grass is found  in the monograph written by D.N.Mukherjee(1908): Paper & Paper Mache in Bengal. 

To Lodhas, Savars, & other tribes living on Non-Timber Forest products  call this grass as ”money plant”. The grass which was abundantly  grown in hills, jungles  as wild  is now cultivated  in the Savariya territory of Mayurbhanj,Baripada of Orissa, Santhal parganas,Singhbhums of Jharkhand, Purulia,  West Midnapore & bankura of West Bengal. In Mauerbhanj,the  weekly hut of Dantiamuhan   shows crowding for Sabai-grass  business.  Nayagram Block is famous for Sabuigrass . Neogi and Beligarh represent centres for sabui-trade. In those markets, raw sabai grass, sabui made twines,ropes are sold. In other occasion sabui-made artifacts are brought for selling. 

Nayagram has the advantage of its territorial position as it is adjacent to Orissa  and Jharkhand in terms of marketing. On the other hand, there are vast waste lands  unsuitable for crops other than sabui in this block. Recently I visited the block for  experiencing MNREGA -convergence schemes. However, this crop attracted me 

  • Sabui-grass is a traditional crop  could grown in barren, infertile, up- wasteland where no-irrigation facilities exist.
  • Minimum  labor,  zero-tillage  and almost nil-capital  is required to cultivate.
  • Could be grown as an inter-crop with the Euclaptus plantation 
  • This crop will add bio-diversity, check soil erosion
  • Sabui-is a fodder  in dry region
  • It has domestic values for making thaches,roofs,homemade twins,ropes ,brooms tec.
  •  Women are involved in value addition process
  • Differnt kinds of artifacts are possible from Sabui.
  • Tremendous prospects in Paper industry as a raw material
  • Charpis-made from Sabui grass are in large demand .
  •  scope for Micro-& small scale industry in employment generation for tribal.
  • Hilly & sloppy tracts could be brought under green-coverage in convergence with MNREGA project

 Considering its importance in dry regions of Paschimanchal strategic action plans are required. 









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