Center likely to increase the number of minor forest products under MSP
The Center may increase the number of minor forest products (MFPs) that are covered by the minimum support price (MSP) mechanism. This would be a great way to reach out to the tribal community before assembly elections in states that are mostly tribal.
With a focus on getting more people to use millets, the central government is thinking about adding some millets that grow naturally in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. Tribal Affairs Minister Arjun Munda said, ‘Products like barbatti (string beans) from Sahibganj and some kinds of millets are being considered for inclusion.’ When we say ‘millets,’ we don’t mean the ones grown in fields, but the ones that grow on their own.
At the moment, the MSP net covers 87 goods. The scheme was started by the Congress-led UPA government in 2013–14. Setting the MSP for some small forest products that tribal people in remote areas collect is part of it.
These tribal people sell MFPs in village haats, and if the market price falls below the MSP, the state government steps in to buy the MFPs. This helps protect the economic interests of tribal people, who often use the village haat to trade forest goods for things like salt and vegetables.
The last time this happened was in November 2020, during COVID-19, when the government wanted to help forest dwellers and tribal people who had gone back to their villages during the lockdown with extra money. The government added 24 new MFPs to the list of things that are covered by MSP.
The Center had also given states the power to set an MSP that was about 10% higher than what the tribal affairs ministry had said.