NEW DELHI: A special focus of the initiatives that TRIFED has been implementing in its mission to integrate the tribal population towards mainstream is on empowering and upskilling tribal women. Among the various initiatives that have been geared at improving the lives and livelihoods of tribal women, the Van Dhan Yojana stands out because of the impact it has been able to generate.
The Van Dhan Vikas Kendras, tribal start-ups, is a component of the ‘Mechanism for Marketing of Minor Forest Produce (MFP) through Minimum Support Price (MSP) & Development of Value Chain for MFP’ Scheme that has emerged as a beacon of change and has impacted the tribal ecosystem as never before. The Van Dhan Yojana further complements MSP beautifully as it has emerged as a source of employment generation for tribal gatherers and forest dwellers and the home-bound tribal artisans.
The beauty of the programme is that it ensures the development of the value chain in MFP, along with training of the tribal gatherers, infrastructure support, access to timely credit. Moreover, the proceeds from the sales of these value-added products go to the tribal directly. The value-added products also benefit largely from the packaging and marketing that these tribal enterprises provide. More than 1700 tribal enterprises have established across the country providing employment opportunities to approximately 5.26 lakh tribal gatherers under this scheme. What makes this scheme significant is that the majority of these tribal gatherers who are being benefited are women.
Since September 2019, the Van Dhan Kendras of Manipur have reported sales of MFP products worth more than Rs. 49.1 lakhs since September 2019! The exemplary food safety and hygiene standards adopted by these 77centres that have been established, the superb attractive packaging of the processed products such as Amla juice, tamarind amla candy and plum jams, and the innovative branding and marketing of these products have stood out. A mobile van service has also been started in one of the districts to ensure the selling of these products! And it is remarkable to note that tribal gatherers impacted the most have been women.