Lakhs out of lac

In Nowgai village of Madhya Pradesh's (mp) Shahdol district, a self-help group (shg) comprising members of the Baiga tribe today boasts savings worth over Rs 4.5 lakh. This recent upturn in their fortunes is linked to lac cultivation on the palash (Butea monosperma) trees that dot most fields in the area.

"I could never have imagined making all this money before,' says Madhav Singh, the leader of the shg. "All I had was 1.21 hectares of land that wasn't irrigated. The only way we could make ends meet was by working as labourers in cities. Who would have thought that these palash trees, which we used primarily for fuel wood, would make me a lakhpati ?' he adds. Madhav is now a