A story that once again showcases the Van Dhan tribal start-ups programme, a component of the ‘Mechanism for Marketing of Minor Forest Produce (MFP) through Minimum Support Price (MSP) & Development of Value Chain for MFP’ Scheme, has emerged as a major source of employment for local tribals is the success of VDVK Adivasi Eakatmik Samajik Sanstha, Shahapur.
VDVK Adivasi Eakatmik Samajik Sanstha, Shahapur is a perfect example of tribal entrepreneurship and demonstrates how cluster development and value addition can help members earn significantly higher income.
Surrounded by the mountain ranges of the Western Ghats, Shahapur is the largest Taluka in the Thane District in Maharashtra and is seen as an upcoming region. The majority of tribals who form the members of this VDVK are from the Katkari community. Katkari is a primitive tribe found in Maharashtra (Pune, Raigad and Thane districts) and parts of Gujarat. The tribals are mainly agricultural labourers and sell firewood and some jungle fruits.
Started by Sunil Pawaran enterprising member of this community and his friends to sell raw Giloy in local markets has now become a 300 member VDVK under the Van Dhan Vikas Yojana. The VDVK has a much larger scale of operations and deals with more than 35 products and processed food items.
The process of making Giloy powder involves cutting Giloy from the trees by tribal which is followed by drying for 8-10 days. This dry Giloy is brought to central facility in Shahapur where it is grinded, packaged and branded and subsequently shipped to buyers including Tribes India. In the last 1.5 year, the group has sold Giloy powder worth Rs 12, 40,000/- (Rs. Twelve lakhs Forty Thousand only) & Dry Giloy sold worth Rs.6,10,000/- (Rs. Six lakhs Ten Thousand only) total sale worth Rs.18,50,000/- (Rs. Eighteen lakhs Fifty Thousand only).
Operating as a cluster, over the last One and half year, the VDVK has sold raw Giloy to leading companies including Dabur, Baidyanath, Himalaya, Vithoba, Sharandhar, Bhumi Natural Products Kerala, Trivikram, andMaitri foods, etc. Most of the Companies like Himalayas, Dabur and Bhumi have ordered 450 tonnes of Giloy worth Rs.1, 57, 00,000/- (Rs. One Crore Fifty Seven lacks only) up until now.
While the Covid-19 pandemic and the nationwide lockdown that followed did disrupt the VDVK’s operations, it did not deter the morale of the team. Through the lockdown, the VDVK continued to work hard to minimize the impact.
Between March 2020 and Mid-June 2020, VDVK Shahapur purchased over 34,000 kg of raw Giloy from the local tribals. Subsequently with the unlocking and slow return to normalcy, the VDVK is working aggressively to expand and make its products available for purchase on e-commerce platforms.
While it is Giloy, raw and processed, continues to be the VDVK’s mainstay, it has now expanded into other products such as Safed Musali, Jamun, Behada, Vavding, Moringa, Neem, Amla, and orange peel powder.
The success has inspired thousands of people from the community and nearby areas to come together and work on similar lines. 39 VDVKs comprising of 12000 beneficiaries have been additionally sanctioned by TRIFED so far.
The Van Dhan Vikas Yojana is a programme for value addition, branding & marketing of Minor Forest Produces by establishing Van Dhan Kendras to facilitate creation of sustainable livelihoods for the forest-based tribes. The scheme aims to empower tribals by providing them support in terms of financial capital, training, mentoring, etc. in order to expand their business and enhance earnings.
The sincere efforts, dedication and determination of the tribal entrepreneurs in working collectively starting from the collection of these MFPs through value addition, packaging, branding and marketing of the products has succeeded in making the VDVK a huge success in this fast developing region.