Global Economy

More forest items under MSP scheme likely

In a major outreach to the tribal community ahead of assembly elections in tribal-dominated states, the Centre may increase the number of minor forest produce (MFP) covered under the minimum support price (MSP) mechanism.

With the emphasis on increasing use of millets, the Modi government is considering inclusion of certain naturally growing millets in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. Tribal affairs minister Arjun Munda said, “There are products that are being considered for inclusion like barbatti (string beans) of Sahibganj and certain kinds of millets. When we say millets, we mean not the types that are grown in fields but growing naturally.”

At present, there are 87 products covered by the MSP net. The scheme, which was launched by Congress-led UPA government in 2013-14, involves fixing MSP for identified minor forest produce which are collected by tribals in remote areas. These tribals sell MFPs in village haats and if the market prices fall below MSP, the state government agencies move in to procure the minor forest produce. This helps protect the economic interest of tribals, who often resort to bartering forest produce for common necessities such as salt and vegetables at the village haat.

The last such inclusion had taken place in November 2020 during Covid-19 when the government wanted to provide extra financial help to forest dwellers and tribals who had travelled back to their villages during the lockdown. The government had included 24 new items in the list of MFPs covered under MSP. The Centre had also given states the authority to fix a higher MSP (by about 10%) than declared by the tribal affairs ministry.


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