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TRIFED, IIT Kanpur, CGMFPFED launch ‘Tech for Tribals’ initiative

The initiative aims to tap the traditional knowledge and skills of tribals and add branding, packaging and marketing skills to optimise their incomes through a market led enterprise model

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In order to bring holistic development of tribals with a focus on entrepreneurship development, soft skills, IT, and business development, Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED), in association with Chhattisgarh MFP Federation and IIT Kanpur today launched “Tech For Tribals” initiative virtually.

TRIFED, in collaboration with Ministry of Small and Medium and Micro Enterprises (MSME) under the Entrepreneurship Skill Development Programme (ESDP) will commence the initiative through self-help-groups (SHGs) operating through Van Dhan Vikas Kendras (VDVKs).

During the 6 weeks training from October 13, November 7, 2020, Van Dhan beneficiaries across all districts of Chhattisgarh will be trained on various facets of micro-enterprise creation, management and functioning. This will be over a period of 30 days and will include 120 sessions. The training module has been developed by IIT Kanpur and will be disseminated among beneficiaries in a phased manner through various modes like online lectures and trainings, online activities and will gradually move to face to face interactions in class rooms, practical, onsite visits and exposure visits.

The programme aims to tap the traditional knowledge and skills of tribals and add branding, packaging and marketing skills to optimise their incomes through a market led enterprise model by setting up of Van Dhan Kendras (VDVKs). TRIFED has so far sanctioned 1,243 Van Dhan Kendras in 21 states and one union territories involving 3.68 lakh tribal gatherers.

Dr. Nikhil Agarwal, CEO, Foundation for Innovation & Research in Science & Technology (FIRST) at IIT Kanpur welcomed the participants in the virtual conference and the beneficiaries of the programme in his address.

Setting the rationale behind this initiative, Pravir Krishna, MD, TRIFED, said that “Tech for Tribals initiative” is a unique programme to make tribals of India “Aatmanirbhar”, focussing to bridge the gap between tribal entrepreneurs and urban markets. Under the initiative, TRIFED has tied up with reputed national level institutions such as IIT Kanpur; Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai; Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS), Bhubaneswar; Vivekananda Kendra, Tamil Nadu and SRIJAN, Rajasthan, for conducting Vandhan-ESDP training programme in the states of Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan.

He said that the TRIFED had planned to subsequently start the Vandhan-ESDP training programme in other states as well through other training partners using the training module developed by IIT Kanpur with minor modification as per local requirements. The “Tech For Tribals” initiative is a major push towards tribal development and empowerment.

Speaking on the occasion, Sanjay Shukla, Managing Director, Chhattisgarh MFP Federation (CGMFPFED) spoke about the unprecedented success of the MFP (Minor Forest Produce) programme in Chhattisgarh and how it had emerged as a Champion for its commendable efforts and how post this success, the “tech for tribals” initiative is the next logical step. Over the past few months, Chhattisgarh had procured 46,857 metric tonnes of minor forest produce worth Rs 106.53 crore. With the Chhattisgarh government putting all its might behind the implementation of the MSP for MFP scheme, the systems and processes for procurement were well in place across all districts.

Chhattisgarh has 866 procurement centres and the state has leveraged its vast network of Van Dhan SHGs from the 139 Van Dhan Kendras effectively as well. Innovations adopted such as door-to-door collection of minor forest produces by mobile units comprising of forest, revenue and VDVK officials have contributed to these high procurement values.

In his address, Prof Amitabha Bandyopadhyay, Prof-In-Charge, Incubator at IIT Kanpur, spoke about the skill development programme that would run by IIT Kanpur and the technological transformation it was aiming towards. IIT Kanpur would run the skill development programme of tribal youth across Chhattisgarh to help them build their enterprise by commercialising the products using MFPs. This programme would mainly entail three aspects of development for sustainable entrepreneurship which could be considered as the three pillars - Engagement, Capacity Building and Market linkages.

This would lead to the path of commercialisation of the tribal entrepreneurs. The course content and modules developed are specifically relevant to entrepreneurship in value addition and processing of forest produces. This capacity building programme is expected to ensure higher success rate of the tribal entrepreneurs by enabling and empowering them to run their business with marketable products with quality certifications.

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