Van DhanVikasYojana – Empowering the tribals of Jawadhu Hills ofTiruvannamalai district, Tamil Nadu

New Delhi: Under the Village connect initiative of TRIFED, to ensure that the initiatives are being implemented for uplifting the tribal population at the grassroot, TRIFED’s officials across the country have been visitingvillages with a significant tribal population across the country.Being present on the ground level has aided TRIFED’s officials not only oversee the implementation of these programmes but also made them aware of some remarkable success stories.

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These programmes and initiatives have been impleleted by TRIFED for making India self-reliant under the AtmanirbharAbhiyan, with the motto, Go Vocal for Local Go Tribal – Mera Van MeraDhanMeraUdyam.

One such success story that has come to the fore is in Jawadhu Hills, Tiruvannamalai district, Tamil Nadu, where the Van Dhan tribal start-ups programme, a component of the the ‘Mechanism for Marketing of Minor Forest Produce (MFP) through Minimum Support Price (MSP) & Development of Value Chain for MFP’ Scheme, has emerged as a major source of employment for the local tribals.

Situated in the Tiruvannamalai district of Tamil Nadu, Jawadhu hills is an extension of the Eastern Ghats. The Malayali tribal people constitute 92.60% of the total population in this block and their mainstay is through the non-timber forest produce and a variety of trees grown on this patta land such as tamarind, jackfruit, coconut, lemon and plantain and gooseberry.

 

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To help these tribals empower themselves and gain better opportunities and market access, the Jawadhu Hills Tribal Farmer Producer Company was formed in 2020. It falls under theState Balanced Growth Fund for Value Addition of Non-Timber forest Product and Agricultural Products of Jawadhu hills, Tiruvannamalai District (SPV). The Company has been formed under the Companies Act 2013(18 of 2013) and is limited by shares. It consists of members of farmers interest groups, producer groups and self-help groups that have been formed at community level.

Thiru K. S. Kandasamy, District collector, Tiruvannamalai played a pivotal role in promoting Jawathu Hills Tribal Farmer Producer Company and handing it over to the hands of the tribal people. The entire team of directors and key managerial persons of the FPO are tribals.

In less than an year, four manufacturing units have already been set up for the processing and packaging of tamarind, minor millet, and honey and pepper. The units, which are being run by the tribals, have started production in November 2020. The daily production capacity is 1 tonne. Up until now, in less than 4 months, the producer company has sold processed products up to Rs 12 lakhs. The FPO has already been registered as a seller in the Tribes India marketplace and has been selling nine of its processed produce through the platform, thus gaining a wider market for its goods.

124 tons of minor millets have been produced in the year, with a total of 9800 households cultivating minor millets. Around 17770 farmers are involved in its cultivation. The producer company will benefit around 17770 millet producing farmers.22 tons per year honey is produced in Jawadhu hill with a total of 2760 members involved in producing honey as a part of 120 SHGs. Therefore, the Jawadhu Hills producer company is targeting to improve the lives and livelihood of 2760 honey producers.9500 households and 300 SHGs are involved in Tamarind Production & Selling Process. More than 90 tonnes of tamarind are being produced in these hills.

 

Besides the farmer producer company, which was formed only in 2020, the tribals of the block were already members of existing Van DhanKendras in Tiruvannamalai district – Jawadhu VDVK, Jamunamarathur VDVK and Koottathur VDVK. These continue to be operational under the FPO. Tribals have been earning their livelihoods through the addition of value and processing non-timber forest produces or Minor forest produces through these VDVKs.

The Jawathu Hills producer company has been formed with an aim to improve the quality of life and social status of tribals involved. This is an example of how the Van Dhan tribal start-up has been successful in improving the livelihoods and incomes of the tribal people across the country.

Through such initiatives, TRIFED continues to work towards effecting complete transformation of the tribal ecosystem across the country.