It has now been four months since the Pandemic Covid-19 has caused (and continues to cause) havoc in the lives of people, across the country. As people try to pick up their lives and livelihoods, the team of TRIFED warriors is continuing to forge ahead in its endeavor to bring the tribal people towards mainstream development.
Adapting “Go Vocal for Local”, a mantra in these troubled times, into “Go Vocal for Local Go Tribal – Mera Van Mera Dhan Mera Udyam”, TRIFED, Ministry of Tribal Affairs has put in place several path-breaking initiatives, in addition to its existing flagship programs and implementations, that have emerged as a panacea for the distressed tribals in such times. Some of TRIFED’s noteworthy efforts in the recent months that have aided the tribal people in employment and livelihood generation in these difficult times are showcased below.
At a time when all aspects of life have moved online, TRIFED has embarked on an all-encompassing digitization drive to only promote tribal commerce and also map and link its village-based tribal producers and artisans to national and international markets by setting up state of art e- platforms benchmarked to international standards. The strategy is aimed to effectively promote tribal commerce.
TRIFED is in the process of digitizing all the information related to the forest dwellers associated with the Van Dhan Yojana, village hats, and their warehouses. This digitization effort wherein all tribal clusters are identified and mapped using GIS technology will help bring benefits to these people under the “Atmanirbhar Abhiyanclarion” call given by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi.
Due to the suddenness of the pandemic overtaking our lives and the immediate lockdown, stocks by tribal artisans worth Rs 100 crores were lying unsold. In order to ensure that these stocks got sold and all the sales proceeds go to the affected tribal families, TRIFED purchased more than 1 lakh items and launched an aggressive plan to market these unsold goods online (offering substantial discounts) through its Tribes India website and also other retail platforms such as Amazon, Flipkart, and GeM. The team of TRIFED warriors also joined hands with the Art of Living Foundation to distribute free food and ration to more than 5000 tribal artisan families.
The ‘Mechanism for Marketing of Minor Forest Produce (MFP) through Minimum Support Price (MSP) & Development of Value Chain for MFP’ Scheme has also emerged as a beacon of change and has impacted the tribal ecosystem as never before. Conceptualized and implemented by TRIFED in association with State Government Agencies across 21 states of the country, the scheme has injected more than Rs 3000 crores directly in the tribal economy since April 2020. Aided by the Government push in May 2020 wherein the prices of Minor Forest Produce (MFPs) were increased by up to 90% and the inclusion of 23 new items in the MFP list, this flagship scheme of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, which draws its strength from The Forest Rights Act of 2005, aims to provide remunerative and fair prices to tribal gatherers of forest produces. The price is almost three times higher than would be available to them from middlemen and has helped in trebling their incomes in these times.
The ongoing procurement of MFPs under the MSP for MFP Scheme in 16 States has hit a record-breaking high with the procurement touching Rs 1000 crores, and another Rs 2000 crores by trade over and above the MSP.
Among the States, Chhattisgarh has taken the lead by procuring 46654 Metric tonnes of Minor forest produces worth a Rs 105.96 crores. Odisha and Telangana follow with the procurement of 14188 MTs of MFPs worth Rs 30.01 crores and 5323 MTs of MFPs worth Rs 2.35 crores respectively.
The Van Dhan Vikas Kendras/ Tribal Start-ups, also a component of the same scheme, further complements MSP beautifully as it has emerged as a source of employment generation for tribal gatherers and forest dwellers and the home-bound tribal artisans. 1205 Tribal Enterprises spread across 18500 SHGs have been established to provide employment opportunities to 3.6 lakh tribal gatherers and 18000 Self-help groups in 22 States. The beauty of the program is that it ensures that the proceeds from the sales of these value-added products go to the tribals directly. The value-added products benefit largely from the packaging and marketing that these tribal enterprises provide. Manipur and Nagaland have emerged as examples of States where these start-ups have bloomed.
77 Van Dhan Kendras have been established in the State of Manipur for value addition and processing of forest produces. These Van Dhan Kendras have reported sales of MFP products worth Rs. 49.1 lakhs since September 2019! The exemplary food safety and hygiene standards adopted by these centers that have been established, the superb attractive packaging of processed products such as Amla juice, tamarind amla candy and plum jams, and the innovative branding and marketing of these products have stood out in particular. A mobile van service has also been started in one of the districts in Manipur to ensure the sale of these products.
TRIFED is now planning the convergence of the Van Dhan Yojana with the MSP for MFP Scheme in the next phase of its activities. Together, these two initiatives offer a comprehensive development package for tribals promoting employment and incomes and entrepreneurship.
Systems and processes are being put in place across the country so that the procurement of MFPs becomes a round-the-year operation and double the present reach to over Rs6000 crore (and benefit 25 lakhs tribal gatherer families) from the current level of Rs 3000 crores. To bolster the scale-up and prepare for additional activities, the establishment of 3000 VDVKs involving 9 lakh tribal beneficiaries in the FY 2020-21 is being targeted.
44 Van Dhan Vikas Kendras will benefit approximately 14000 tribals were launched in Mizoram on July 14, 2020, by Shri. C. Lalrinsanga, Minister of Department of Cooperation, Government of Mizoram in the presence of Shri Pravir Krishna, Managing Director, TRIFED and Shri JP Agarwal, Department of Cooperation, Government of Mizoram and other officials. Activities in these VDVKs such as training of supervisors and surveyors have also commenced at full speed in the past week.
To bring more exposure to the empaneled tribal artisans and to bring their skill sets and products to international standards, TRIFED is also collaborating with renowned designers such as Ruma Devi and Rina Dhaka to train the tribal artisans.
In her own show, The Designer and The Muse, currently airing on News X, Rina Dhaka is promoting tribal handicrafts and products through a series of interviews. The first interview with Gauhar Khan was telecast on July 17, 2020, while the second one with Pooja Batra is on air on July 24, 2020.
With the successful implementation of these initiatives and many more upcoming ones, TRIFED is working towards the complete transformation of tribal lives and livelihoods across the country by reinvigorating the flagging economic condition of the affected artisans and gatherers.