(GIST OF KURUKSHETRA) Changing Lives of North-eastern Tribes
Changing Lives of North-eastern Tribes
The North-eastern region is one of the most ethnically and linguistically diverse regions in Asia, and each state takes pride in a range of cultures and traditions. The 2011 Census Report mentions 135 recognised scheduled tribes and 250 ethnic communities in the region. The percentage of tribal population in the seven states of the region is also very high - Arunachal Pradesh (68), Assam (12.4), Manipur (40.9), Meghalaya (86.1), Mizoram (94.4), Nagaland (86.5) and Tripura (31.8).
- Several activities are interrelated in making the Pradhan Mantri Van Dhan Yojana successful in the northeast. These include value addition to various minor forest produce available in the respective tribal inhabited areas, upgrading skills by imparting training, building successful entrepreneurship among the communities, and creating a dependable market linkage.
- Pradhan Mantri Van Dhan Yojana (PMVDY), a flagship programme of the Government of India, was unveiled by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on April 14, 2018. It is intended to bring significant positive changes in the lives of tribal communities living in forest areas across the country by way of improving livelihood opportunities for them. \
- In Assam, the Pradhan Mantri Van Dhan Yojana is being implemented by three agencies. While Welfare of Plain Tribes and Other Backward Classes (WPT&BC) department is the nodal agency, Assam Plains Tribes Development Corporation (APTDC) is the state implementing agency.
- The most significant aspect of the Pradhan Mantri Van Dhan Yojana programme in Assam is the creation of a brand called TRISSAM in order to bring about a uniform identity of all products manufactured by the tribal beneficiaries. Launched in September 2020, the brand has been designed and developed by IIE, and marketing has already begun through various marketing channels, state and national level exhibitions, and fairs. The list of value-added MFP products of the PMVDY beneficiaries of Assam includes wild honey, black rice, joha (aromatic) rice, bora (sticky) rice, aijong rice, muri (puffed rice), chira (flattened rice), bhut jolokiya (king chilli), mustard oil, black pepper, hill broom, green organic tea, jaggery, turmeric powder, bay-leaf/powder, incense sticks, jackfruit seed/powder, ginger powder/dry, various kinds of squashes and jams, etc.
- In Manipur, 200 VDVKs have been set up so far, with 3,320 SHGs under them covering about 60,400 beneficiaries, mostly in the tribal-majority districts of Churachandpur, Tamenglong, Ukhrul, Noney, Kangpokpi and Pherzawl. While mobilization and sensitisation were carried out through cluster wise workshops and advocacy programmes, master trainers and experts were engaged in cluster wise training.
- The Kendras have already started producing various products like fruit candies (of amla, wild apple, pineapple, ginger, Burmese grapes, plum), jam (of pineapple, amla, plum), pickles (of bamboo shoot, king chilli, banana stem, black olive), mushroom, spices (dalchini, turmeric, ginger, chilli, bay-leaf), banana chips, to name a few. Hill broom, common to several other North-eastern states, is also another major product of Manipur's Van Dhan Kendras.
- A couple of mobile vans have been also provided to sell the products door-to-door in the urban centres including Imphal, while the products are also being sold online. The concerted efforts of all stakeholders have made Manipur a leading state in the implementation of PMVDY, and this achievement was duly recognised by the central government by conferring it the “Champion State” title in October, 2020.
- With products manufactured by the beneficiaries having found good market response, Pradhan Mantri Van Dhan Vikas Yojana has emerged as a beacon of change, impacting the tribal ecosystem as never before in Manipur. It has provided employment to tribal women and improved their financial conditions.
- Pradhan Mantri Van Dhan Yojana programme in Tripura was launched in January 2020 with a central grant of Rs. 2.26 crore. While 17 Van Dhan Vikas Kendras covering 4,256 beneficiaries under 249 SHGs were set up in the first phase, ten more VDVKs were set up, taking the number of beneficiaries up to 8,100.
- The VDVKs provide support for setting up sheds, tool kits are provided, and training is imparted. During 2020-21, ten more VDVKs have been set up, and each VDVK provided pucca sheds, warehouses for storage, and add-on equipment etc.
- Meghalaya and TRIFED have signed an MoU for implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Van Dhan Yojana only in January 2021, with the Department of Planning as the nodal agency and Meghalaya Basin Management Agency as implementing agency.
- Some of the products include hill broom, bay-leaf, wild honey, black pepper, cinnamon, packing leaves, edible wild nuts and of course jams and pickles of various edible wild fruits like blackberry, gooseberry, wild olive, soh broi (Ziziphus) and sohphie. Meghalaya being a leading producer of plum, pineapple, orange, apricot, litchi, kiwi, jackfruit, peach, pear, etc, the VKDKs have also identified these for value addition under the Yojana.
- Arunachal Pradesh, a late entrant into the Van Dhan Yojana programme, has signed an MoU with TRIFED in March 2021. The state Rural Development department has been made the nodal agency for the implementation of this scheme, while Arunachal Pradesh State Rural Livelihood Mission (ArSRLM) is the State Implementation Agency. At least 85 VDVK clusters have been set up in the first year, and 1,275 SHGs have been brought under their umbrella, covering an estimated 25,000 beneficiaries.