In a major boost to India’s tribal economy, the government and private traders procured large quantities of minor forest produce during the nationwide lockdown, which led to the infusion of over Rs 2,000 crores into the tribal communities. With an aim to boost the sagging tribal economy, the government raised the minimum support prices (MSP) of minor forest produces by up to 90 per cent on May 1, 2020, providing higher incomes for the tribal gatherers, said a statement by the ministry of tribal affairs. The implementation of the Van Dhan Yojana is believed to be a catalyst behind the large scale benefits to the tribal economy.
The Van DhanYojana has proved to be successful within a year of its implementation, with the establishment of 1,205 tribal enterprises and providing employment opportunities to 3.6 lakh tribal gatherers and 18,000 self-help groups in 22 States, the government added. Through the Van Dhan scheme, the government aims at improving tribal incomes through value addition of tribal products and the economic development of tribals by helping them in optimum utilisation of natural resources. In an effort to support the tribal economy, the government constituted Van Dhan Vikas Kendras, provided skill up-gradation and capacity building training, and set up primary processing and value addition facilities in the tribal regions.
In a media briefing webinar, Pravir Krishna, Managing Director, TRIFED, said that the unprecedented circumstances caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic threw up challenges and resulted in a severe crisis among the tribal population. During the peak procurement months of April-June, it was evident that without government intervention and procurement, it would have been disastrous for the tribals, he added. Meanwhile, the coronavirus pandemic and the consequent nationwide lockdown led to massive unemployment and reverse migration in the tribal communities, which posed a threat to the tribal economy.