Answer: Van Dhan Scheme is aimed to improve tribal incomes through value addition of tribal products.
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Van Dhan Scheme:
- The Van Dhan Scheme is an initiative of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs and Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India Limited (TRIFED).
- It was launched on April, 2018 and seeks to improve tribal incomes through value addition of tribal products.
- The scheme will be implemented through Ministry of Tribal Affairs as Nodal Department at the Central Level and TRIFED as Nodal Agency at the National Level.
- At State level, the State Nodal Agency for MFPs and the District collectors are envisaged to play a pivot role in scheme implementation at grassroots level.
Minor Forest Produce and tribal livelihoods:
- 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.
Key Highlights of Van Dhan Initiative:
- At unit level, aggregation of produce would be done by SHGs having about 30 members each forming Van Dhan Vikas ‘Samuh’.
- Provision for required building/ infrastructure support to be established in one of the beneficiary’s house/ part of house or Government/ gram panchayat building.
- Equipment/ Tool Kit comprising of equipment such as small cutting and sieving tools, decorticator, dryer, packaging tool etc. based on MFPs available in the area.
- Provisioning of working capital for the SHGs through tie up with financial institutions, banks, NSTFDC etc.
- A cluster of ten such SHGs within the same village shall form a Van Dhan Vikas Kendra.
- Subject to successful operations of the samuhs in a Kendra, common infrastructure facilities may be provided to the Kendra in the next phase in terms of building, warehouse, etc. for use of the samuh members.
Implementation of the scheme:
- Under Van Dhan, 10 Self Help Groups of 30 Tribal gatherers is constituted.
- The establishment of “Van Dhan Vikas Kendra” is for providing skill upgradation and capacity building training and setting up of primary processing and value addition facility.
- They are then trained and provided with working capital to add value to the products, which they collect from the jungle.
- Working under the leadership of Collector these groups can then market their products not only within the States but also outside the States.
- Training and technical support is provided by TRIFED. It is proposed to develop 3,000 such centres in the country.
- The Van Dhan Vikas Kendras will be important milestone in economic development of tribals involved in collection of MFPs by helping them in optimum utilization of natural resources and provide sustainable MFP-based livelihood in MFP-rich districts.