Minor Forest Produce (MFP) is a major source of livelihood for tribals living in forest areas. The importance of MFPs for this section of the society can be gauged from the fact that around 100 million forest dwellers depend on MFPs for food, shelter, medicines and cash income.
It provides them critical subsistence during the lean seasons, particularly for primitive tribal groups such as hunter gatherers, and the landless.
Tribals derive 20-40% of their annual income from MFP on which they spend major portion of their time. This activity has strong linkage to women’s financial empowerment as most of the MFPs are collected and used/sold by women. MFP sector has the potential to create about 10 million workdays annually in the country.
Ministry of Tribal Affairs has taken a number of initiatives for socio economic development of tribals like introduction Forest rights Act, PESA Act and has been implementing schemes for development of MFP by providing financial support to State TDCCs and TRIFED for market development of MFPs. Recognizing the critical importance which MFP hold for tribals and its potential to create large scale employment opportunity thereby, helping in reducing poverty and increasing empowerment of tribals particularly women and poor people of the poorest and backward districts of the country, Govt. of India has introduced an ambitious scheme of“Mechanism for marketing of Minor Forest Produce (MFP) through Minimum Support price (MSP) and development of Value chain for MFP”.
The scheme was started with the objective of providing fair price to MFP gatherers, enhance their income level and ensure sustainable harvesting of MFPs. The MSP scheme seeks to establish a framework to ensure fair prices for the produce collected by them, assurance of buying at a particular price, primary processing, storage, transportation etc while ensuring sustainability of the resource base. It is a holistic scheme for development of MFP trade andcovers 24 MFPs.
Recently Government proposes to set up 3000 Van Dhan Kendras involving 30,000 SHGs across the country.