Imphal, May 3
The PCCF & HoFF inaugurated the VDVK products and a Mobile vending shop of Churachandpur VDVKs. The Self Help Groups members presented the first sets of every processed products to the dignitaries, yesterday. CCF-T II, Conservator of Forests and Nodal Officer, VDVK, Manipur were present at the formal inauguration of the Van Dhan Vikas Kendras, Churachandpur.
As the name indicates, Prime Minister Van Dhan Vikas Yojana is a scheme for tapping the rich forest wealth of the country. Taking into consideration the issues faced by the indigenous population in remote areas like unable to get a fair and equitable income, shrinking areas of NTFP (Non-timber Forest Produces), non-regulation of Mandis, Haats, Keithel, Absence of processing facilities and improper management of the wealth of the forest, the Prime Minister launched the scheme as a pilot project in Bijapur, Chattishgarh on 14th April, 2018. With proactive stand by the Chief Minister Manipur was sanctioned 77 VDVKs by Ministry of Tribal affairs.
Churachandpur, located in the southern fringes of Manipur, is rich in various Minor Forest Produces, especially, Pinaapple, Gooseberry, Fig, Bamboo, Mushroom, Wild Pepper, Ginger, Rhus, Passion Fruit, Wild Honey, Changpi, Heining, Bahlong, Wild Tea, Broom Grass, etc.These Minor Forest Produces were abundantly found in the Forest area of Churachandpur adjacent to the tribal villages.
Under the able leadership of the Divisional Forest Officer, N Ganesh, IFS, 10 VDVKs (Van Dhan Vikas Kendras) were set up in strategic location of Churachandpur Forest Division. The Kendras are set up at Kapiah, Leimata, Behiang, Singngat, Songpi, Henglep, Sagang, Tuilaphai, Santing and Churachandpur. Each Kendra consisting of around 15 SHG (Self Help Group) of around 300 tribal members each, were set up with an aim of generating livelihood for tribal population by harnessing the wealth of forest. Altogether, 3238 members were benefited from the programme.
A District level Advocacy cum Training programme was held on 31st January, 2020 at the Kangvai Community Hall, Churachandpur. Multiple trainings for all SHGs were conducted by Experts. The total training duration is of 240 hours, spread over 1.5 months so far. The members were fully trained on collection technique of MFP, Value addition of MFP, handling and operation of various machines and equipment.Apart from branding, packaging and marketing of about 30 value-added products, including Gooseberry candy, Wild Honey, Pineapple Squash, which are a hit in the local markets, Churachandpur Forest Division also provided the essential machineries and equipment for the Kendras.
Materials worth Rs. 12,000 were also distributed by Churachandpur Forest Division to each SHG. Under the branding of CCpur VDVK-from the doorstep of tribals, Heimang Candy, Pineapple Candy, Ginger Candy, King Chilli Candy, Gooseberry Candy, Wild tea, Heimang tea, Ginger tea, Pineapple Juice, Olive Juice, Pineapple Squash, Pineapple Jam, Turmeric Powder, Ginger Powder, Bamboo Shoot Pickle, Gooseberry Pickle, King Chilli Pickle, Mushroom Pickle, Dried Bamboo Shoot, Dried Mushroom, Dried Amla, Honey etc. are produced. The price of the products ranges from Rs. 40 to Rs. 1200.
The idea is to create an entrepreneur model through decentralized processing units for Minor Forest Produces and some Agriculture Produces. The various SHGs will process these products in their villages and sell it to Common Facilitation Centers of the Kendras. The supply chain management will be done by these Common Facilitation Centers after proper packaging and Food security scrutiny.
The marketing will be done by Kendra office bearers as a whole sale business. Most of the Kendras will be provided with Hot air Drier, Pulveriser, Pulper, Boiler, Continuous Band Sealing machine and Batch coding machines.
Apart from Minor Forest Produces, Kendras are also producing Bamboo handicrafts with export quality finishing. Bamboo machineries were given to Santing, Tuilaphai and Henglep Kendras. Efforts are on to rope in E-commerce giants like Amazon and Flipkart. CEO of Flipkart has already accepted request of Churachandpur Forest Division to give a marketing space to these products in their platform.DFO also appealed to all supermarket around Imphal and Churachandpur to buy these products from VDVKs.
The scheme provides a viable alternative for the forest dependent communities, thereby reducing their dependency on forests. It also helps in doubling of farmer’s income, a policy of GoI and GoM. This, we hope will have agglomerative effect and act as a centripetal force for more such groups to indulge in processing and hope will yield better conservation results.
Under the strict supervision of Churachandpur Forest Division, these value added products are manufactured in highly hygienic environment. All products are duly checked, monitored and certified by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
The SHGs, with their hardworking attitude, coupled with their traditional knowledge has brought the business prospering. In a short span, the income of the tribal members is expected to increase multifold. The vehicle inaugurated is a brainchild of Churachandpur Forest Division.
The SHGs are also coming up with innovative ideas and are adding more value added products. The success story can be felt from the fact that all Kendras have contributed to Mobile vending Kiosk from the common fund of the Kendras. Seeing the zeal and enthusiasm of the SHG members, Divisional Forest Office, Churachandpur Forest Division is to build Work-Shed cum Warehouses for all Kendras.
The office has already approached Multinational corporates (MNCs) and Agencies to sponsor the work through their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Schemes. He lauded the efforts of Division’s staff, particularly, Range Officer, Henglep, Deputy Ranger (HQ), Forest Guards of the Division and Master Trainers Bembem Devi, Tonjao, Latashini Devi who have worked tirelessly in the past three months to implement this Scheme and also ask them to continue the good works in the future.
Although the SHGs are not working to its fullest potential due to the current COVID-19 lockdown, the scheme will be a great boon to the tribal people as it will help them double their farm income, earn money and improve their living standards, thereby minimizing the impacts of Economic blackout due to COVID-19.