The Congress government, headed by chief minister Bhupesh Baghel, has taken many decisions to improve the lot of forest dwellers and minor forest produce collectors in the last two years. The decision to procure 52 types of minor forest produces and initiatives for their value addition has directly benefited the forest dwellers.
Vananchal project has been launched with the purpose of providing direct and indirect employment opportunities by establishing small forest produce based industries in the respective regions for value addition of small forest produce collected by forest dwellers. The state government has made provisions for giving many types of discounts and attractive packages in its new industry policy for the promotion of small forest produce based industries, resulting in entrepreneurs getting attracted to set up forest produce based industries. 15 entrepreneurs have already applied with the state government, proposing to invest Rs 75 crore for setting up various types of forest produce based industries in Vananchal areas.
Besides, the state government has also substantially increased the purchase price of minor forest produce. The rate of tendu leaf collection has been increased from Rs 2500 per standard bag to Rs 4000 per standard bag. As a result, families of about 12 lakh tendu leaf collectors have received additional wages of Rs 225 crore per year besides an additional incentive remuneration bonus of Rs 232 crore.
The support price of Mahua has been increased from Rs 17 to Rs 30 per kg, tamarind support price increased from Rs 25 per to Rs 36 per kg and Chironji kernels price has been increased from Rs 93 to Rs 126 per kg. Similarly, the purchase price for Rangini Lakh has been increased from Rs 130 per kg to Rs 220 per kg, Kusmi Lakh has been increased from Rs 200 per kg to Rs 300 per kg, honey has been increased from Rs 195 to Rs 225 per kg.
A government spokesman said at present, only five per cent of the forest produce procured in the state is processed within the state. After launching the Vananchal project, the government is in the advance stages of process for having an memoranda of understanding (MOU) with entrepreneurs, who have applied for setting up forest based industries such as processing units of tamarind, mahua, tora, harra, bahera, la, essential oil, munga, kodo kutki, ragi aag guthli, cashew nut, bhilwa.