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New guidelines to salvage MSP scheme for minor forest produce

The govt would frame new guidelines to salvage the scheme and align it to the way it was conceived by the Centre.

, ET Bureau|
Feb 09, 2019, 09.41 AM IST
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The government will also effect a 40-60% increase in MSP of MFPs soon.
Ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Centre would decentralise its five-year-old Minimum Support Price (MSP) scheme for minor forest produce (MFP), a complete non-starter programme targeted to benefit 55 million tribals across India.

The government would frame new guidelines to salvage the scheme and align it to the way it was conceived by the Centre and passed by Cabinet. Tribal affairs minister Jual Oram has stepped in to turnaround the implementation and notify new guidelines. Now, the system would be decentralised with collectors made responsible for the scheme implementation. Self help groups would be formed, which would sell the MFPs at village haats. Value addition centres would be established to improve the rates tribals get for the produce collected by them. The move to revamp the scheme comes just days before Cabinet Secretary P K Sinha reviews the scheme on February 15 and a committee of secretaries deliberates on how to improve utilisation of funds.

“Now programme coverage would be expanded and proper guidelines framed,” said tribal affairs minister Jual Oram. The area of operation would be expanded to 307 districts across 27 states. "The revenue that mining gets for the state, this scheme would get for our tribals and this is renewable," Oram said. About 90% of the funds earmarked for the scheme remain unutilised five years after it was first introduced by Congress-led UPA government in 2013-14. The scheme involves fixing MSP for identified minor forest produce, which is collected by tribals in remote areas. These tribals then sell MFPs in village haats.

If the market prices fall below MSP, the state government agencies move in to procure the minor forest produce. After detailed reviews in January, Oram has directed the ministry to align the scheme to what was approved by the Cabinet.

The government will also effect a 40-60% increase in MSP of MFPs soon. Though the MSP was increased in December 2018 between 5% and 200%, the ministry could go for another increase. ET had first reported in its January 30 edition that cabinet secretary will review the scheme due to non performance.

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