Chhattisgarh tops the country in terms of collection of minor forest produce

Minor forest produce, which is in abundance across Chhattisgarh, has turned out to be a valuable product in the central Indian State. The Chhattisgarh government’s policies – including efficient purchase of minor forest produce at the support price – have helped improve the lives of forest dwellers and minor forest produce collectors in the State.

The past two years have particularly been promising for forest dwellers in Chhattisgarh, thanks to minor forest produce-centric policies introduced by the State government, led by Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel. These policies have enabled Chhattisgarh to top the country in terms of collection of minor forest produce. 

Chhattisgarh has established a new record by purchasing 73 per cent of the country’s forest produce.

Push for forest produce

Chhattisgarh has established a new record by purchasing 73 per cent of the country’s forest produce. Interestingly, it is the only State in the country where 52 types of minor forest produce are being purchased at the support price. This is directly benefiting forest dwellers and forest produce collectors across the State.

On the special initiative of Mr Baghel, the State government has increased the purchase prices of minor forest produce to help and support hard-working forest dwellers and farmers. Accordingly, the rate of tendu leaf collection has been increased from Rs 2,500 per standard bag to Rs 4,000 per standard bag. This has resulted in about 12 lakh tendu leaf collector households receiving additional wages of Rs 225 crore per year as well as additional incentive remuneration bonus of Rs 232 crore. Besides, the support price of mahua has been increased from Rs 17 to Rs 30 per kg, tamarind from Rs 25 to Rs 36 per kg and chironji kernels from Rs 93 to Rs 126 per kg. 

A breed apart

Going ahead, the Chhattisgarh government has taken an initiative to add value to its minor forest produce through the Vananchal project.  The purpose of this project is to provide direct and indirect employment opportunities by establishing minor forest produce-based industries in forest areas of the State. Currently, only 5 per cent of the forest produce stored in the State is processed. The Vananchal project has been chalked out to change this situation and encourage forest produce-based industry in areas like Bastar.

The State government has provided many types of discounts and attractive packages in its new industry policy for promotion of minor forest produce-based industries. So far, 15 entrepreneurs have proposed to set up various types of forest produce-based industries in Vananchal areas with a total investment of Rs 75 crore. The MoUs for industries based on forest produce – such as tamarind, essential oils, cashewnut, bhilwa, mahua, tora, harra and bahera, among others – are being processed by the government.

Establishment of these industries in Bastar will facilitate additional employment of villagers in the region. Besides, there will also be a constant demand for forest produce. With the Vananchal project taking off, farmers in the Bastar region will also be able to cultivate herbs, like munga, lemon grass, satwar, patchouli, vetiver, white musli, pipli, Ashwagandha and the like. These crops will produce essential oils, aromatic oils and pharmaceutical products – which have huge export potential – and will also give farmers twice as much of income. 

Farmers across the country appear to be angry with new farm laws. There is also disappointment among the farming community as its income is depleting. On the contrary, the Bhupesh Baghel government is stepping up procurement of farm and forest produce at remunerative support prices. It is also encouraging agro- and forest produce-based industries in the State. Meanwhile, farmers across Chhattisgarh seem to be a breed apart – happier than their brethren in other parts of the country.

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