Minimum Support Price for Minor Forest Produce injects Rs 2000 crore plus into the tribal economy
Chhattisgarh excels in procurement!
Procurement of MFPs have been initiated in 17 States with total procurement worth Rs. 835 Cr through Central Government and State funds and almost Rs 1200 crore through private trade (through sales at Mandis/ haat bazaars). This takes the total procurement for the year to Rs 2000 crore and provides a direct benefit transfer to tribal people in lieu of their Minor forest produces.
The Van Dhan Yojana (Start-ups scheme), an initiative of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, has proved to be successful within a year of its implementation, with the establishment of 1205 Tribal Enterprises and providing employment opportunities to 3.6 lakh tribal gatherers and 18000 Self-help groups in 22 States. TRIFED has leveraged the institutional mechanism carefully created in the past one year under VanDhan Yojana.
This successful implementation has also acted as a catalyst in helping the Minimum Support Price for Minimum Forest Produce Scheme take roots across the country.
A media briefing was organised by TRIFED on June 18, 2020 for members of the media fraternity (both from print and electronic media) to inform them of how MSP for MFP has emerged as a panacea for the tribal people so that they can further spread awareness among people.
The webinar titled “MSP for MFP takes roots in Tribal India” was chaired by Mr Pravir Krishna, Managing Director, TRIFED and was attended by over 25 participants. Ms. Nanu Bhasin, ADG, PIB, facilitated this briefing with the media people. The TRIFED team was represented by all the heads of departments and senior officials.
Mr. Pravir Krishna gave the welcome address and set the context of the webinar. He familiarised the audiences about the Guidelines for the Scheme for ‘Mechanism for Marketing of Minor Forest Produce (MFP) Through Minimum Support Price (MSP) & Development of Value Chain for MFP’, which had been initiated by the Ministry for Tribal Affairs, for providing MSP to gatherers of forest produces and introducing value addition and marketing through tribal groups and clusters. However, it had not achieved the impact that had been envisaged. However, over the past two months, this Scheme has now found widespread acceptance, with the active participation of 17 States and has transformed into a national programme.
What was once limited to two states has now been expanded to 17 States. (which include Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Nagaland, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.)
Mr. Pravir Krishna elaborated on the importance of this scheme and how it provides a legitimate fair deal for the tribals in the trade of Minor Forest Produce (MFP).
The unprecedented circumstances caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic threw up challenges and resulted in a severe crisis among the tribal population. Unemployment among youth, reverse migration of tribals threatened to throw the entire tribal economy off track. It is in such a scenario that the MSP for MFP presented an opportunity to all the States. The successful implementation of the Van Dhan Yojana across the 22 States involving 3.6 lakh tribal beneficiaries and continuous engagements & on-boarding of the States with TRIFED under Van Dhan acted as a catalyst for putting the MSP for MFP Scheme on the right track.
With the months of April-June being the peak in terms of the collection of Minor Forest Produce, it was evident that without government intervention and procurement, it would have been disastrous for the tribals. In this regard, to promote and safeguard the tribal livelihoods and safety during these times of distress, several meetings (via video conferencing) were conducted to draft a joint strategy between the States and the Ministry of Tribal Affairs. He also recommended the convergence of the successful Van Dhan scheme with the MSP for MFP guidelines.
To provide a fillip to the sagging tribal economy, a revised MSP for MFP guidelines were issued on May 1 2020, which increased the MSP prices of the MFPs by up to 90% and thus helped in providing higher incomes for the tribal gatherers.
The Ministry also recommended the addition of 23 new items under the MSP for MFP list. These items include agricultural and horticultural produce collected by tribal gatherers.
Shri Krishna spoke about the role of TRIFED as the nodal agency working to empower the tribal population and how it has been supporting and assisting the State in their efforts during this crisis. State and national level webinars were conducted along with UNICEF, WHO and Ministry of Tribal Affairs in April to create awareness among the tribal gatherers for following social distancing measures and maintaining necessary hygiene required for carrying out their operations. The motto was to STOP COVID and NOT WORK! This message was disseminated through advertisements, campaigns in states and social media.
After summing up these phenomenal efforts during the times of crisis, Shri Krishna informed the audience as to how this scheme is not a flash in the pan, a one-time effort. With the Covid-19 Relief Plan under Article 275 (1) under which assistance would be provided to States for expanding the collection, procurement, harvesting and processing of MFPs; establishment of Van Dhan Kendras and promoting tribal entrepreneurship; establishing Tribal Producer Companies and Common Facility Centers (CFCs); tribal food and nitration security and food & non-food assistance to tribal gatherers; and preventive healthcare and strengthening of tribal health care systems, this MSP for MFP scheme would get a Rs 1300 crore boost.
Chhattisgarh as a model state; Visits from Other State to replicate these efforts are being organised
Post this detailed summary, Pravir Krishna presented some real-life examples from states like Maharashtra, Odisha, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Assam to showcase how procurement is taking place, in a well-oiled, institutional manner. Procurement is not ad-hoc; instead there is a process in place! Every centre has a board and an electronic weighing machine. Communication and messaging methods in spreading the word about the revised prices have been put in place Details such as the value of procurement, items being procured, and the number of procurement centres were highlighted for all these cases.
Chhattisgarh was given a special mention and commended as a Champion State for its commendable efforts. With the State government putting all its might behind the implementation of the Scheme, the set-up for procurement is well in place across all districts. The State has 866 procurement centres and the State has leveraged its vast network of Van Dhan SHGs from the 139 Van Dhan Kendras effectively as well.
An innovation adopted by the state has particularly won acclaim. Door to door collection was initiated in Ramanujganj district of the State. Mobile units comprising of forest, revenue and Van Dhan Vikas Kendra officials were put in place and they went and procured the produce from each house. Chhattisgarh’s success in organising such an effort has made it a model state and all states are sending teams to observe and then implement this method as best practice.
Pravir Krishna concluded his address by speaking about the ambitious, yet doable plans for the future. MSP for MFP is definitely proving to be a panacea for the tribal ecosystem. To give this much more of a boost, TRIFED is planning convergences with other ministries and departments. Shri Krishna thanked the State governments for their support and co-operation. He opined that if a non-starter with just a little bit of intervention can result in injecting Rs 2000 crore plus into the tribal economy; he was confident that with the right convergences and boost, the MSP for MFP can transform the tribal ecosystem and empower the tribal people. Mera Van Mera Dhan Mera Udyam is the motto for the present and future!
With this positive and hopeful note, he thanked the participants for their interest. The floor (zoom app) was opened up for questions. There were a couple of questions. Ms. Manjari Chaturvedi, Navbharat times askedf whether the payment for the government procurement has reached the tribals? Shri Krishna explained that 100% of the payment has been done – with 40% being paid on the spot and 60% through bank/ electronic transfer. He also mentioned that there is a mechanism in place, ie. redressal centre under the District Collector’s surveillance to track any resultant anomalies and address any grievances. She also wanted to know as to how private procurement was being tracked. Shri Krishna explained that it was being tracked through sales in mandis. The number mentioned was a conservative estimate based on these sales.
Ms. Ritwicka asked whether the helpline number was functional and wanted to know the volume of complaints and grievances received. Shri Krishna mentioned that his team would circulate that number post the webinar and assured that while there have been some complaints, nothing critical has been brought to the team’s notice.
Mr. Ajit of Radiance Media wanted to know how many MSMEs are associated with this initiative. Shri Krishna informed them that Trifed’s own SHGs are 20,000 in number; if one includes the SHGs from States, then the number of MSMEs being helped are 50,000.
With this, the session came to an end, with the participants being informed about the final webinar in this series that is slated for June 25. The topic of this webinar would be on how the tribal handloom and handicraft sector is coping in these troubled times and the initiatives put in place to alleviate their distress.
It is hoped that the series of webinars organised by TRIFED with the support of Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Tribal Affairs would raise awareness of the steps being put in place by the Government for the empowerment of the tribal people and that this would help spread the word so that more and more people from the tribal communities benefit from these efforts!