While responding to the fallout of the Corona situation, it is apparent that this government has kept the vulnerable and less-privileged section as its top priority. Just like the farmers were helped using PM Kisan income support and other measures in the economic package; like the poor were given free ration for three months; the tribal section of this country has also seen timely helpful measures.
- Inclusion of 23 additional Minor Forest Produce (MFP) items and stipulation of their Minimum Support Price (MSP) aims to help the tribal in these difficult times.
- ₹6,000 crore worth plans announced in the second tranche of the Economic Package majorly helps tribal community.
- The Van Dhan Yojana launched by the Modi government is also proving to be of great help during this phase.
Helping the Tribal with MFP and MSP
On May 29, 2020, an announcement made by the Ministry of Trial Affairs said that there is an inclusion of 23 additional Minor Forest Produce (MFP) items and stipulation of their Minimum Support Price (MSP) under the existing Central scheme. This decision increases the coverage from 50 to 73 items. This is done to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic situation by offering the much-needed support to the tribal MFP gatherers.
The increase of MSP across various items of Minor Forest Produce ranged from 16% to 66%. (in some cases, such as Giloe, the increase has been up to 190%). The increase is also expected to provide an immediate and much needed momentum to procurement of Minor Tribal Produce across all States.
Though MSP for MFP was in effect from 2013-14, the Modi government has addressed the lacuna in the process and made it helpful for the tribal gatherers. It ensured the participation of States that were reluctant before by offering financial support for part of working capital requirement of State Implementing Agencies and also share losses, if any. Through TRIFED (Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India), the market linkage for tribal also improved. You can read the detailed account in our previous article Learning to Soar: The Entrepreneurial Dreams of India’s Tribal Population.
₹6,000 Crore in Economic Package
The second tranche of the Economic Package addressing the Corona situation has committed for ₹6,000 crores worth of plans under Compensatory Afforestation Management & Planning Authority Funds which will create job opportunities for tribal workers. At a time when the South-West Monsoon is around the corner, this will come in handy in helping the tribal community through funding planting activities.
Help from Van Dhan
The story of Shahapur’s Katkari tribe makes you understand how Modi government’s Van Dhan scheme has come to rescue for tribal people even during the lockdown.
Pradhan Mantri Van Dhan Yojana is a retail marketing led value addition plan for MFP, meant for forest-based tribes to optimize the tribal income, locally. Under the program, MFP-based tribal groups / enterprises of around 300 members are formed for collection, value addition, packaging & marketing of MFPs.
Sunil Pawar, a Maharashtra youth, joined hand with TRIFED to market the product of Katkari tribe through Pradhan Mantri Van Dhan Yojana. Highlighting how this scheme helped the tribal even during the lockdown he said,
“Not confining ourselves to local market and pharma companies, we plan to take giloy to far away markets with the help of big retail chains like D-Mart. Online sale is happening through it during lockdown period. Government is forthcoming in issuing passes to us so that produce can be transported and sold without hindrance.”
Giloy which is called गुडूची in Ayurveda is used in medicines which treat various kinds of fever (viral fever, malaria, etc.) as well as diabetes. It is used in extract form, powder form or cream.
Apart from this product, the scheme has also enabled the community to find market for 7 types of Samidha (sacrificial offerings made mostly of wood) which are offered in the holy fire during the performance of Puja.
In the Corona phase, we saw that the many infrastructure built under this government in the last five years, such as Jan Dhan, Ujjwala etc coming to a great help in protecting the vulnerable. Similarly, the measures taken by the Modi government on tribal welfare also have played a crucial role in helping the community during difficult times.