The Ministry of Tribal Affairs said on Friday that it has planned to set up 200 ‘Van Dhan’ producer companies in all the 27 states in the next five years with priority to the aspirational districts under the Van Dhan programme of the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India Limited (TRIFED).
The ministry also said that a Van Dhan producer company, the Jawadhu Hills Tribal Farmer Producer Company located in Tamil Nadu’s Tiruvannamalai district, has sold processed products worth up to Rs 12 lakh in less than four months.
Jawadhu hills is an extension of the Eastern Ghats. The Malayali tribal people constitute 92.60 per cent of the total population in this block and their mainstay is through non-timber forest produce and a variety of trees grown on this ‘patta’ land such as tamarind, jackfruit, coconut, lemon and gooseberry.
To help the Malayali tribal people empower themselves and gain better opportunities and market access, the Jawadhu Hills Tribal Farmer Producer Company was formed in 2020.
The Van Dhan tribal startups, a component of the same scheme, is a programme for value addition, branding and marketing of minor forest produces by establishing ‘Van Dhan Kendras’ to facilitate creation of sustainable livelihoods for the forest-based tribes.
“It has emerged as a source of employment generation for the tribal gatherers and forest dwellers and the home-bound tribal artisans,” the ministry said.
In less than two years, 37,904 Van Dhan Self-Help Groups (VDSHGs), subsumed into 2,275 Van Dhan Vikas Kendra Clusters (VDVKCs) of 300 forest dwellers each, have been sanctioned by TRIFED.
TRIFED is also expanding its skill development and micro entrepreneurship programme, together with the tribal livelihoods programme.
“Convergences with various ministries and departments, including the Ministry of Rural Development, Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises, Ministry of Food Processing Industries and Ministry of AYUSH, have been initiated by TRIFED with the aim of improving sustainable livelihoods and income opportunities for the tribal people,” an official said.