Minor Forest Produce (MFP)
- Recent Context: In a bid to financially empower tribals during the COVID-19 crisis, the Centre has increased the minimum support price (MSP) of minor forest produce (MFP) by 16-30%. The list of products will include 20 new items such as cardamom, turmeric and ginger, ban tulsi, ban jeera and raw bamboo brooms. Forest products collected by tribals in northeastern states will also be included.
- Section 2(4) of the Indian Forest Act 1927 defines only “forest-produce” and this term connotes to those products whether found in or brought from a forest such as timber, charcoal, caoutchouc, catechu, wood-oil, resin, natural varnish, bark, lac, mahua flowers, mahua seeds, kuth and myrobalans, trees and leaves, flowers and fruits, and all other parts or produce of trees, plants not being trees (including grass, creepers, reeds, and moss), and all parts or produce of such plants, wild animals and skins, tusks, horns, bones, silk, cocoons, honey and wax, and all other parts or produce of animals, and peat, surface soil, rock and minerals (including limestone, laterite, mineral oils), and all products of mines or quarries;
- Minor Forest Produce (MFP) is a subset of forest produce and got a definition only in 2007 when the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, was enacted.
- Section 2(i) of the said Act defines a Minor Forest Produce (MFP) as all non-timber forest produce of plant origin and includes bamboo, brushwood, stumps, canes, Tusser, cocoon, honey, waxes, Lac, tendu/kendu leaves, medicinal plants and herbs, roots, tuber and the like. Thus, the definition of “minor forest produce” includes bamboo and cane, thereby changing the categorization of bamboo and cane as “trees” under the Indian Forest Act 1927.
- About Indian Forest Amendment Act, 2017: It amends the Indian Forest Act, 1927. Under the Act, the definition of tree includes palms, bamboos, stumps, brushwood, and canes. The Amendment Act amends this definition to remove the word bamboos. Following this, bamboo growing in non-forest areas will be waived off the requirement of permission for its felling or transportation for economic use.
- About the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, popularly known as the Forests Rights Act (FRA), was enacted in 2007: The Act recognizes and vests individual forest-dwellers with forest rights to live in and cultivate forest land that was occupied before 13 December 2005 and grants community forest rights to manage, protect and regenerate the forest under section 3(1)(i), and to own and dispose minor forest products from forests where they had traditional access. Section 3(1)(c) of the Forest Rights Act 2006 defines forest rights as inclusive of ‘Right of ownership, access to collect, use and dispose of minor forest produce which has traditionally been collected within or outside village boundaries. Individuals, communities, and gram sabhas having rights under this particular section of the Act will not only have the rightto use but also rights of ownership over MFPs.
- The Government of India has launched a central sector scheme for the marketing of Minor Forest Produce through Minimum Support Price (MSP) and development of value chain to ensure fair monetary returns to MFP gatherers for their efforts in the collection, primary processing, storage, packaging, transportation, etc. The scheme envisages fixation and declaration of Minimum Support Price for the selected MFP based on the suggestions/ inputs received from the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED) which came into existence in 1987, and the States concerned. The procurement and marketing operation at pre-fixed MSP is undertaken by the designated State agencies. Thus, not Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices(CACP) but TRIFED recommends the MSP to the Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs.