Cashless Economy - The Barter System of Tribes


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Spread in 4200 sq km, larger then the state of Goa, Abujmarh is a huge area of dense forest, mountains and several rivers, isolated from the outside world and largely inaccessible,and is also known as "liberated-zone" as it is an alleged hub of Naxalite-Maoist insurgency. It is part of chattisgarh state of India and it is home to indigenous tribes of India, including Muria, Abuj Maria, Gond and Halbaas. Govt. had restricted on the entry of common people in this region, however, couple of year back it has been lifted. It remained untouched by any govt. presence and civil administration since independence of India. Here, Moaoist runs own government known as Janta Sarkar and their courts known as Jan Adalat. Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India has proposed to designate Abujmarh as a biosphere reserve.


It covers 3 district of Chhattisgarh state and is close to the borders of neighboring Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra states. Abujhmah is possibly the only piece of land in the country where there is no revenue map as yet; villagers have no title deeds (patta) to the land they live in or cultivate.

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58 year old, Jhotiakhim Khulma belongs to Abuj Maria tribe, living with his tribe deep inside the lush green virgin forest hilly region which is 150 km from Dantewada district. Abuj Maria's gods includes clan gods, an earth-mother, village deities, mountain gods, ancestor spirits and spirits associated with every hill, lake, tree, rock and river. Jhotiakhim is suffering from knee-joint pain since last 2-3 years and "Jebdeba" (local Hakeem / Vaidhya) have urged Jhotiakhim to take greater caution while treking the hill ranges.

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He has been advised to exercise caution while carrying any type of load / weight, however, this warning could not stop Jhotiakhim from two day trek, negotiating a hilly terrain, wild animals and rivulets, down the hills of Kabdidola in Abujmarh to the plains of Dantewada to attend annual barter fair.

Tribal honey hunter of Barter known for harvesting & selling pure organic raw honey

He along with his tribal group will be carrying head-loads of home grown paddy, forest honey, Jobra (tribal sweets), Chapada Chutney and handcraft items to exchange with other tribes and non-tribal peoples for salt, sugar, mustard oil, soaps and clothes, ornaments and other basic daily needs via barter trade method-- without any monetary transaction. Dressed in a fitted red check cotton lungi with a white gamchha and a strip of printed cloth wrapped around his waist, walked with his tribe group to reach what the locals call their bazaar.

tribe of honey hunters , specialized honey collector of Jharkhand

His tribe is proud being part of centuries-old tradition in Abujmarh where people from the hills and plains get together once a year and buy and sell their commodities via barter method. Like Jhotiakhim, thousands of people from across Abujmarh have been part of this tradition of seamless cashless transaction for three days every year at Baisakhi Mela. This is perhaps the world’s oldest barter trading system which is till alive and even people from urban settlements flock to the fair to enjoy the essence of cashless trading.

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Forest honey is sold in larger quantities like two or three hundred kg in this Mela every year. Tribes generally sell the honey when they need money to perform marriages. Last year almost 2500 kg of forest honey were exchanged / sold via barter method and it was collection of 12 different tribes from the diversified forest region of Abujmarh. Honey lovers around the India use to come in this yearly tribal market to taste and purchase almost 25+ varieties of forest honey, harvested from dense forest area spread in around 3000 sq km.

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Based on Nectar of flower, the honey comes in multiple colors such Red, Dark Black, Golden Light, Brown etc from very low viscosity to very high viscosity. The most famous honey of this barter market is Hotia Madhu (Mahuwa flora honey) which is very bitter in taste. Tribesman generally collects the honey 2-3 times in a year from the forest honey bees hives built on trees and cliffs and store it in wooden barrel and large clay pot. They generally use to preserve it for 2-3 years before selling in the market. This preservation period gives the sweet fragmented unique flavor to the honey.

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After 3 days, Jhotiakhim Khulma is going back with commitment that he will come back next year again and devoted a beautiful song of his tribes to this yearly Mela.

Joriya Jopra Kheuma Na Tummmmm

Joriya Jopra Kheuma Na Tummmmm

Khemu Khemu Dikalnaal Chlena Dikalnaal

Joriya Jopra Kheuma Na Tummmmm

Supnem Maghe Maghe Namush Hai Maanush

Konchim Konchim Jimkhe Na Chikahe

Jubnu Na Mangtu Ne Jopra Na Mangtu

Joriya Jopra Kheuma Na Tummmmm -2