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Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes

Friday, October 21 2011, 4:47 PM


Economic Empowerment
1. The government proposes to reserve 4% of its total purchases from SC ST companies.
However, the issue with this is that it can lead to formation of shell companies where SC
ST are just the front.
2. Pradhan Mantri Adarsh Gram Yojna: It provides the funding gaps for an integrated
implementation of existing schemes in 1000 SC dominated villages in 5 states. It was
launched in 2010.
3. Tribal Sub-Plan (TSP): It forms a part of annual Plan of a State. The benefits given to the
tribals and tribal areas of a State from the TSP are in addition to what percolates from the
overall Plan of a State. The funds provided under the Tribal Sub Plan have to be at least in
proportion to the ST population of each State.
Minor Forest Produce Scheme
1. 13 minor forest produces will be covered under minimum support price mechanism. This
proposal has been approved by planning commission.
2. These produces have significant social and economic value for tribals. Their estimated
value @ first point of purchase is ~$720 mm per annum out of which $400 mm are for
bamboo and tendu alone. Other produces covered under the scheme will be mahua (both
flowers and seeds), chironji, lac, sal (both seeds and leaves), tamarind etc.
3. It will be administered by MFP Commission under the ministry of tribal affairs. State
agencies will be carrying out the procurement operations and will be funded by the center.
4. MSPs will be linked to NERGA wages, transportation costs, value addition and local
market prices.
Minor Forest Produce Market
1. What the primary tribal collectors of Non Timber Forest Produce (NTFPs) get today is a
very small fraction of the potential value embedded in NTFPs.
2. Mere notification of MSPs will not do. Trade in NTFPs is neither competitive
nor transparent. The reach of a typical procurement agency is limited and it is only in the
tendu trade that some states have reached gatherers, at high transaction costs. Even in
tendu trade, intermediary aggregator-contractors exhibit rent-seeking behavior.
State procurement agencies are more likely to make MSP effective for small traderaggregators rather than for the numerous scattered gatherers. This can have a
negative impact on gatherers because it will provide a floor price for traders/aggregators,
de-risking their trade and improving their competitive strength. This increases the
bargaining power of trader/aggregators vis--vis gatherers.
3. What is needed instead is a powerful business model which ensures that collectors of
NTFPs become shareholders in an institution that helps them to climb up the value chain.
Indeed, we may need to visualize several such institutions, each of which would be
centered round those NTFPs that share a similar market structure as also
geographical spread.