Jorhat, April 8: The first batch of students of the only co-operative management university in the country at Sivasagar was given a rigorous 15-day training at the Indian Institute of Forest Management (IIFM) at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, which concluded yesterday.
The training was held in a bid to teach qualities of management and protection of forest resources as a group activity to the students.
Rafiquz Zaman, vice-chancellor of the Assam Rajiv Gandhi University of Cooperative Management, said it was perceived that forest protection was better done by a co-operative method by groups of people rather than an individual. A case in point is Vindhya Herbals, which produces ayur-vedic medicines under a co-operative federation system whe-re raw materials from forests are managed by co-operatives.
The university had signed an MoU with IIFM, Bhopal for exchange of knowledge and education on October 23, 2013.
“As part of the student exchange programme, all the 33 undergraduate students of the first batch of BBA (Coop.) programme were sent to IIFM Bhopal on March 17 for an intensive programme on environment and forestry management. The students returned yesterday,” Zaman said.
He said given Assam’s high forest cover and resources, the programme had been designed to cover various aspects of environment and forestry. It also included afforestation management, environmental conservation, climate change, environmental problems, environmental and social impact assessments, Indian Forest Act 1927, Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, operations management of tendu patta, bamboo and agarwood.
In addition, issues related to forests were addressed through co-operative management during the sessions.
“The programme constituted of a judicious mix of classroom sessions and field sessions. A session on woodcraft co-operative was done through a visit to Budhni, where a woodcraft co-operative consisting of artisans trained by the institute is in operation. The artisans of Budhni are famous and have participated in various fairs such as the Bhopal Van Mela, Bhopal Haat and Gohar Mahal Haat among others,” he said.
A visit was also included to the international heritage site at Bheem Baithika that shelters the 30,000-year-old Stone Age rock paintings.
Other visits included a visit to the community based eco-tourism site at Samardha and a small and medium forest-based enterprise at Rehti, both initiated by IIFM and to the Minor Forest Produce Processing and Research Centre, Van Parisar, Barkheda, near BHEL, Bhopal. The Park houses a research centre and is a trading and development co-operative federation of minor forest produce of Madhya Pradesh. The visits enabled the students to interact with the farmers and artisans at the sites.