The Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED) is proposing the formation of ‘Van Dhan’ self-help groups to ensure that tribals get better profit margins through the sale of Minor Forest Produce (MFP).
“Van Dhan self-help groups are proposed to be formed to function through 6,000 Vikas Kendras in 307 districts of the country as part of the mechanism for marketing of MFP through minimum support price and development of a value chain for MFP,” TRIFED adviser Pramod Merkap said on Tuesday.
Addressing an advocacy workshop on MSP and a value chain for MFP held recently in the city, Mr. Merkap said the Kendras would act as institutionalised tribal hubs for collection, value addition and market-linkage to MFP.
“The idea is to reverse the present 80:20 profit margins on MFP between middlemen and tribals,” Mr. Merkap said, adding that each Van Dhan Vikas Kendra will get financial support of ₹15 lakh.
The State-level workshop was organised by the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs, TRIFED and GCC. Mr. Merkap said it would be followed by district and block-level meetings. Action plans would be prepared at all levels.
Tribal artisans would be given visibility by showcasing their products at airports. TRIFED has already tied up with retail giant Amazon to market the products of artisans, he said.
Giving his feedback, ITDA-Parvatipuram Project Officer Laxmi Shah suggested that the Van Dhan Vikas Kendras be constituted only with tribals, and said separate groups could be formed for non-tribals. Besides, agricultural produce in shifting podu cultivation should be treated as MFP by widening its definition and resolving the conflict of laws, he said.
GCC products do well
Stating that GCC products got good visibility during the last six months, Mr. Shah said branding of tribal farm produce like cashew or rajma which was mostly organic should be taken up by TRIFED. Cashew should be brought under MFP, he said.
Divisional Forest Officer C. Selvam said capacity building for tribals for sustainable harvesting was necessary. In the land given under Forest Rights Act, tribals should be encouraged to raise species grown by them and some research should be carried out. Besides, long-term research to quantify species grown in the tribal areas should be taken up, he said.
GCC Vice-Chairman and Managing Director T. Baburao Naidu said MSP was declared only for five products and 18 products were yet to be brought under it. “Value addition is very important and ‘22-cut’ cashew would get better price. The GCC outlets are doing a good job due to value addition and sales have touched ₹5 lakh to ₹6 lakh a month,” Mr. Naidu said.
TRIFED Regional Manager B. Jagadeesh said tribal handicrafts were showcased through 106 showrooms and GCC products worth ₹1 crore were sold, with the fresh target being ₹3 crore.
Director of Rythu Nestam Y. Venkateswara Rao said the demand for millets grew so much that they were now being imported from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
Representatives of NGOs and tribal farmers participated in the workshop.