NEW DELHI: The Ministry of Tribal Affairs included 23 more items to the list of minor forest produce (MFP) to improve livelihood opportunities of tribal communities amid the lockdown.
Tribal communities across the country have been severely hit by the lockdown imposed due to the pandemic. According to Census 2011, 40.6 per cent ST population lived below poverty line in the country as against 20.5 per cent of the non-tribal population in the country.
Around 100 million forest dwellers depend on MFP for food, shelter, medicines and having cash with them, according to the Centre. Tribal communities derive 20-40 per cent of their annual income from MFP.
While 14 items have been considered as MFP for the north-eastern states, the remaining are for across India.
The list of MFP considered for the north-east include betel raw nut, betel nut dry, mushroom dry, black rice, johar rice, king chilli, mustard, raw cashew, cashew nut, ginger dry, perilla dry, rosella, nutgall, zanthoxylum dried, and jackfruit seed. The minimum support price proposed by the Centre for these items vary between Rs 30 to Rs 800.
‘Now, in view of the exceptional and very difficult circumstances currently prevailing in the country on account of of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the potential of the instant scheme to offer the much needed support to tribal MFP gatherers, the competent authority , after due consultation with the MFP pricing cell has taken into account the fact that some of the items, which are otherwise agricultural produce, are not commercially grown in the North Eastern part of India but are found to grow in the wild in forests. Hence, those specific items shall be treated as MFP items and their collection shall be applicable only in North Eastern part of India,” said the letter issued by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs to states on Tuesday.
Earlier, the government had revised the MSP of 49 MFP items.