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Tribal Ministry asks States to prevent distress sale of non-timber forest produce

ANI | Updated: Apr 03, 2020 19:47 IST

New Delhi [India], April 3 (ANI): Amid concerns caused by the coronavirus, the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED) has written to the States that unscrupulous market forces may try to exploit the tribal gatherers by pushing them to distress sale of Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) and Minor Forest Product (MFP) scheme should be implemented with extra energy, especially in the most vulnerable areas.
TRIFED has written to States and Union Territories for combating the impact of COVID-19 on NTFP trade and tribal interests. NTFPs include plants used for food, beverages, medicine, fibres and bio-chemicals; animals, birds and fish for food, fur and feathers and products like honey and silk.
The key points and dos and don'ts relating to NTFP communicated to States include advice to NTFP gatherers about keeping hygiene in their collection work and sanitise their hands before and after collection work, according to a release by the Union Tribal Affairs Ministry.
"Unscrupulous market forces may try to exploit the tribal gatherers by pushing them to distress sale of NTFP. Hence, the MFP scheme will need to be implemented with extra energy, especially in the most vulnerable areas," the release said.
It said hand sanitisers must be placed at the entrance of all NTFP primary processing centres, including Van Dhan Vikas Kendras. "Every processor must sanitise her hands before entering the centre and starting to work."
The states have been told to ensure that processors do not sit cluttered in the processing centres.
"They must be at least two meters away from each other. If the space in the centre is a constraint, they must be advised to work in different shifts, or work from home under clean conditions," the release said.

It said that any person who has any form of cold or cough must not be allowed into the centre and all gatherers and processors must observe social distancing.
"If a gatherer (or anybody in her house) shows the slightest signs of Covid19, they should be subjected to screening and, if necessary, quarantining."
It said the packing material for NTFP must be clean and without damage so that the handlers do not come in contact with the NTFP.
The release also said that to the extent possible, cash transactions must be minimised and amounts must be credited into the bank accounts of the gatherers.
"The gatherers must be encouraged and supported to adopt cashless practices through Government platforms like RuPay," it said.
The release said that states have been communicated the key points which are illustrative and not exhaustive and there may state-specific or NTFP-specific points that may be included in this list.
TRIFED has requested the states and other agencies to ensure that these points reach tribal gatherers and field-level functionaries at the earliest.
The federation said that COVID-19 has posed unprecedented difficulty across the world and all segments of society are affected by it. It said it was peak season for NTFP in many regions and there was need of precautionary measures. (ANI)