New Delhi: This is a success story of tribal entrepreneurship at Van Dhan Vikas Kendra (VDVK) Adivasi Eakatmik Samajik Sanstha, Shahapur in Thane district of Maharashtra
The VDVK, Shahapur tasted success through its hard- work and support from the Union Government under Van Dhan Scheme, which is an initiative of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs and TRIFED. It was launched on 14th April, 2018 and seeks to improve tribal incomes through value addition of tribal products.
The VDVK, 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 Yojana scheme. The VDVK has a much larger scale of operations and deals with more than 35 products and processed food items.
In the last 1.5 year, the group has sold Giloy powder worth Rs 12, 40,000 and Dry Giloy sold worth Rs. 6,10,000.
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, and Maitri foods, etc.
Most of the Companies like Himalayas, Dabur and Bhumi have ordered 450 tonnes of Giloy worth Rs.1, 57, 00,000 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.
According to Ministry of Tribal Affairs, thirty nine 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 Ministry says: “The success of this VDVK is an example of how these initiatives implemented by TRIFED for making India self-reliant under the Atmanirbhar Abhiyan, with the motto, Go Vocal for Local Go Tribal – Mera Van Mera Dhan Mera Udyamar effecting a complete transformation of the tribal ecosystem across the country.” (PR)