She is a 27-year-old woman who lives in a remote area within Upper Dir - Batal Bala, a small village situated on a harsh, hilly terrain. Her name is Bakht Bibi, and a perfect life, with no worries of tomorrow, is a distant dream for her and her four children. The 2010 flash floods washed away Bakht Bibi’s only source of income: the medicinal and aromatic plants (MAP) she collects in the wild as well as her collection tools. With no money and no means to stand on her feet, she felt helpless.
Triggered by militancy in 2009 and floods in 2010, the potential source of income through the collection and selling of MAPs was crippled significantly. Understanding the economic needs of the area, the USAID Entrepreneurs Project implemented a livelihoods recovery project for MAP collectors, which was transformed into a long-term value chain initiative as of July 2011.
“When I started working with the USAID Entrepreneurs Project, I received a toolkit and training on proper collection and processing of MAPs. This was helpful in giving me knowledge and skills on different MAP species and proper collection practices. The toolkit helped me apply the skills I learned from the training. Now I am aware of all the valuable species in the area and their market value,” said Bakht Bibi.
The assistance from the American People is also helping Bakht Bibi and 14,700 other female MAP collectors like her to raise their incomes by at least 50% through improved business management skills and lasting linkages with reliable and lucrative markets.
“I am very interested in developing links with markets so that I can find buyers for my produce and earn more income. The training that I received helps me to keep these plants clean and safe, and I am selling them for a better price than I was getting before this project.” Bakht Bibi said.