New Delhi: The ongoing procurement of Minor Forest Produces (MFP) under the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for MFP Scheme in 16 states has hit a record-breaking high with the procurement touching Rs 79.42 crores. With this, the total procurement for the year (both Government and private trade) crossed more than Rs 2000 crores, proving to be a much needed panacea in these distressing times of the Covid-19 pandemic which has disrupted lives and livelihoods of tribals.
On May 26, 2020, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs 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.
With the injection of over Rs 2000 crores in the tribal economy, the MSP for MFP Scheme can lead in the transformation of the tribal ecosystem and empowering the tribal people. With systems and processes getting firmly established across the country, there is definitely more to come !
In the last two months since April 2020, with the Government push and the Van Dhan scheme proving to be a catalyst and active participation from the States, 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’,initiated to provide MSP to gatherers of forest produces and introducing value addition and marketing through tribal groups and clustershas taken firm roots across the country and found widespread acceptance.
Among the States, Chhattisgarh has taken the lead by procuring 20270 Metric tonnes of Minor forest produces worth a Rs 52.80 crores. Odisha and Gujarat follow with a procurement of 9908 MTs of MFPs worth Rs 21.32 crores and 155 MTs of MFPs worth Rs 1.61 crores respectively. Chhattisgarh, in particular, has emerged as a Champion State for its commendable efforts. With the State government putting all its might behind the implementation of the MSP for MFP Scheme, the systems and processes for procurement is well in place across all districts. Chhattisgarh has 866 procurement centres and the State has leveraged its vast network of Van Dhan SHGs from the 139 Van DhanKendras effectively as well. Innovations adopted such as door-to-door collection of minor forest produces by mobile units comprising of forest, revenue and VDVK officials have contributed to these high figures.
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 till then non-starter 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, without government intervention and procurement, it would have been disastrous for the tribals. 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.
TRIFED under Ministry of Tribal Affairs, as the nodal agency working to empower the tribal population, has been supporting and assisting the State in their efforts during this crisis. State and national level webinars have been 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.