Approximately 10 lakh tribal families got MSP worth Rs 4,000 crore across 21 States for the first time after the implementation of the minimum support price (MSP) for minor forest produce (MFP).
During successive lockdowns, the Center’s MSP for MFP initiative, which was initiated by Congress-led UPA in 2013-14 and remained a non-starter, has had a sudden fillip in the current budget. The state governments used the mechanism as a way to bring more cash via direct benefit transfers in the hands of the tribals.
According to government figures, state agencies acquired minor forest production worth Rs 948 crore and private buyers acquired Rs 3,000 crore. Overall, MSP worth Rs 4,000 crore was generated by November in the first collection season.
Covid-19 created the opportunity
How the system has seen a huge leap during the pandemic can be understood from the fact that tribal families have crossed MSP worth Rs 77-78 crore in five years until March 2020.
The framework requires fixing the MSP for 48 MFP products gathered in remote regions by tribals. In village haats, these tribals then sell MFPs. If the market prices drops below MSP, the agencies of the state government step in to procure small forest products. “Pravir Krishna, managing director of the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED), told “Covid-19 created the opportunity.
Approximately 21 states have used mechanism to disburse MSP actively because it was cash directly in the hands of the poorest. This programme of subsistence did not drain away. We also got an estimation of the number of tribal families benefiting from the program for the first time.
Leading states MFPs at MSP
In the acquisition of minor forest products at MSP, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Gujarat took a lead. It was the first time the MSP for MFP was distributed by Gujarat. As the government went door-to-door to purchase MFPs from the tribals, Chhattisgarh undertook an innovative step,” Krishna said.
Jharkhand, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Nagaland, Karnataka and West Bengal were among the other states that acquired MFPs at MSP.
1In the next collection season, that starts in January 2021, the government has now set a goal of involving all the remaining States.