MHA allows collection, processing of forest produce, plantation of spices
MFP and NTFPs include bamboo, canes, fodder, leaves, gum, wax, dyes, resins and many forms of food including nuts and wild fruits, honey, lac, and tusser.Updated: Apr 17, 2020 18:42 IST
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has allowed the collection, harvesting, and processing of minor forest produce (MFP) and non-timber forest produce (NTFP) by Scheduled Tribe (ST) communities and forest dwellers. It has also allowed plantation of bamboo, coconut, areca nut, cocoa, and spices. Their harvest, processing, packaging, sale, and marketing have also been allowed.
MFP and NTFPs include bamboo, canes, fodder, leaves, gum, wax, dyes, resins and many forms of food including nuts and wild fruits, honey, lac, and tusser.
The MHA exempted these activities on Friday while exercising its powers under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, which has been in force because of the ongoing nationwide lockdown till May 3 to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak. But those working in tribal areas maintain that the order has come late because the MFP season is almost over.
“The most important season for the sale of MFP and NTFPs is April to May when important produce like sal seeds, mahua and tendu leaves are harvested. We are getting reports that tribals stored their produce but couldn’t sell. The government will now have to facilitate procurement and sale of forest produce because forest dwellers are in dire straits because of the ongoing nationwide lockdown. They should also be compensated for their losses,” said Tushar Dash, a member of the Community Forest Rights Learning and Advocacy (CFR-LA) group.
There are around 200 million tribal and forest dwellers, who come under the purview of The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, according to CFR-LA’s analysis.
“Unfortunately the lockdown period has coincided with the NTFP collection period when around 10 million people in Odisha and over 200 million people across the country collect NTFPs like tendu, mahua, siali and sal leaves to sell in the local market for their basic needs. These three-four months cater to their needs up to winter and particularly during monsoon when there are no employment opportunities. They will need immediate help,” said Chitta Ranjan Pani, an Odisha-based researcher.