Sankalp Se Siddhi – Mission Van Dhan
Van Dhan is a recent intervention in tribal-forest areas of our country. Experts have already begun to acknowledge the potential it carries to transform these areas. Before Van Dhan was born, the major programme India had for rural employment was the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. Keeping people gainfully employed within their villages through employment guarantee is both a challenge and a necessity. It is important because it addresses several other critical issues like supporting villagers during the lean months of the year; protecting them from falling into the debt-trap of the moneylender; pre-empting migration of rural folk to urban areas in search of wage jobs; and the consequent problems it generates for both the migrants and the civic administration in urban areas.
The Van Dhan Vikas Yojana, a scheme of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, was born to provide the stable solution to the problem of livelihood in tribal-forest areas. The scheme is executed by TRIFED — an apex body created to provide marketing support to the tribes. Van Dhan not only complements the National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme but goes beyond it. It would not be wrong to say that Van Dhan begins where the NREGA stops. Van Dhan lifts NREGA-beneficiaries to the logical next level. A happy point is that Van Dhan and NREGA are not competing in tribal forest areas; they are coordinating and synergising for the short and long-term good of the tribes.
Keeping in line with this it has recently unveiled its most notable initiative “Sankalp Se Siddhi – Mission Van Dhan”. TRIFED has been implementing several noteworthy programmes for the empowerment of the tribals. Over the past two years, The ‘Mechanism for Marketing of Minor Forest Produce (MFP) through Minimum Support Price (MSP) & Development of Value Chain for MFP’ has impacted the tribal ecosystem in a major way. It has injected Rs 3000 crores into the tribal economy, even during such difficult times, aided by government push. The Van Dhan tribal start-ups, a component of the same scheme, has emerged as a source of employment generation for tribal gatherers and forest dwellers and the home-bound tribal artisans. In less than two years, 37,362 Van Dhan Vikas Kendras (VDVKs), subsumed into 2240 Van Dhan Vikas Kendra Clusters (VDVKCs) of 300 forest dwellers each, have been sanctioned by TRIFED out of which 1200 VDVK Clusters are operational. Under Retail Marketing, a total number of 134 Tribes India Outlets have been opened till date, which have made a total sale of Rs.53.66 Cr. Besides, two TRIFOOD Projects at Jagdalpur and Raigarh (Maharashtra) are being shortly commissioned for undertaking value-addition of various forest products being procured by beneficiaries of Van Dhan Kendras. As a result of above, an estimated amount of Rs. 3800 Cr. has so far been injected in tribal economy and has impacted lives of 50 Lakhs Tribal Population.
TRIFED now plans to expand its operations through convergence of various schemes of different Ministries and Departments and launch the various tribal development programs in Mission Mode under “Sankalp Se Siddhi – Mission Van Dhan” for expediting its implementation. Through this mission, establishment of 50,000 Van Dhan Vikas Kendras, 3000 Haat Bazaars, 600 Godowns, 200 Mini TRIFOOD Units, 100 Common Facility Centres, 100 TRIFOOD parks, 100 SFURTI clusters, 200 Tribes India retail stores, ecommerce platforms for TRIFOOD and Tribes India brand is being targeted.
Van Dhan is working to transform wage-earners into micro-entrepreneurs. The age-old mindset of wage labour has demeaned villagers, especially the tribals. Van Dhan is using the term ‘tribal start-ups’ to drive home the spirit of entrepreneurship. These start-ups relate mostly to micro units that process non-timber forest produces (NTFP). The law has granted ownership rights to the tribes over NTFP, and they have valuable traditional knowledge and skills in this field. It is logical therefore that they should use these resources and skills to transform their traditional work into a new-age industry. TRIFED is facilitating this transformation by enforcing ‘Sabka Vikas’ to make the five-crore tribal-forest population of India self-reliant, ‘Atmanirbhar’.