Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

Centre to revamp minimum support for minor forest produce

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies & interventions for development in various sectors & issues arising out of their design & implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: MFPs and other forest products

Mains level: Issues related to forest rights


News

  • The Centre will frame new guidelines and extend the coverage of Minimum Support Price (MSP) for minor forest produce (MFP) scheme, which is aimed at benefiting a majority of 10 crore tribals.
  • The government is also considering increasing the MSP for various MFPs by around 40 per cent.

MSP for MFP scheme

  1. The MSP for MFP scheme was started in 2013 to ensure fair and remunerative prices to MFP gatherers.
  2. The new system would be decentralized with district collectors holding the responsibility of implementing the scheme.
  3. Moreover, self-help groups will be formed to sell MFP in village haats and value addition centres will be set up.
  4. The area of operation would be expanded to 307 districts across 27 states.

Why such scheme?

  1. Tribals depend on MFP for food, fodder, shelter, medicines and cash income.
  2. It provides them critical subsistence during lean seasons, particularly for primitive tribal groups such as hunter, gatherers, and the landless.
  3. In fact, according to Planning Commission data, tribals derive 20-40 per cent of their annual income from MFP.

Need for proper implementation

  1. While it has been more than five years since the scheme was launched, it has not been implemented properly.
  2. Despite the MFP rights being given to tribal communities under the Forest Rights Act, many states have nationalized MFPs like tendu, monopolising their trade, which is against the law.
  3. The allocations made under the scheme have over the years been heavily under-utilized, so much that around 90 per cent of the funds since the inception of the plan have remained unspent.

Back2Basics

Forest Produce

  1. The essential condition to be qualified as a forest produce is that the products should be either found in or be brought from forest.
  2. Section 2(4) of the Indian Forest Act 1927 defines only “forest-produce” and this term connotes to those products whether found in, or brought from a forest such as
  • timber, charcoal, caoutchouc, catechu, wood-oil, resin, natural varnish, bark, lac, mahua flowers, mahua seeds, kuth and myrabolams,
  • trees and leaves, flowers and fruits, and all other parts or produce of trees,
  • plants not being trees (including grass, creepers, reeds and moss), and all parts or produce of such plants,
  • wild animals and skins, tusks, horns, bones, silk, cocoons, honey and wax, and all other parts or produce of animals, and
  • peat, surface soil, rock and minerals (including lime-stone, laterite, mineral oils), and all products of mines or quarries;

Minor Forest Produce

  • Minor Forest Produce (MFP) is a subset of forest produce and got a definition only in 2007 when the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, was enacted.
  • Section 2(i) of the said Act defines a Minor Forest Produce (MFP) as all non-timber forest produce of plant origin and includes bamboo, brushwood, stumps, canes, Tusser, cocoon, honey, waxes, Lac, tendu/kendu leaves, medicinal plants and herbs, roots, tuber and the like.
  • ***Thus, the definition of “minor forest produce” included bamboo and cane, thereby changing the categorization of bamboo and cane as “trees” under the Indian Forest Act 1927.
  • ***Now, Bamboo is taxonomically a grass now ceases to be a tree as per the ordinance promulgated by the President in 2017.
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