State Bank of India
Oxfam Community Aid Abroad, Australia
The project was implemented in the two districts, namely, Dhar and Sagar of Madhya Pradesh. It was implemented in total, 26 Primary Minor Forest Produce Cooperative Societies of the Sagar and Dhar districts.
About the Project
Madhya Pradesh has nearly one fourth of the country’s forests. Within the state, about 35% of the surface area is covered under forests. It has immense forest resources covering about one third of its total area. However, the potential of these resources as a source of livelihood is not fully tapped by the government. To some extent, the tendu leaf plucking and collection of minor forest products provide some income to 3 million rural poor.
The forests of M.P., produce 2.5 million standard bags, each bag contains 1000 bundles of 50 leaves in each bundle. MP is one of the largest producers of the tendu leaf in the country. In 1980, the state government changed the tendu leaf policies and collected tendu leaf through the state owned marketing entity Markfed on an experimental basis. However, this experiment did not increase the state revenue substantially. Hence, in 1984, the government formed the Madhya Pradesh State Minor Forest Produce Primary Cooperatives Federation (Madhya Pradesh Laghu Vanopj Sangha, Vyapar evam Vikas) business and development to collect tendu leaves directly from the pluckers.
The cooperatives at different levels have been registered and there had never been any political will to run the cooperatives, as they ought to be run as membership-based organizations. The tendu leaf industry is one of the largest profit making industries in MP and involves nearly 3 million workers, most of them are tribal workers. The forest department, which actually manages the industry as any other business, has no agenda of strengthening the cooperatives. In fact, the forest officials in the name of protecting the forest resources, are more in the role of harassing the people who live in the forest villages and depend on the forest resources for their livelihood and sustenance.
The training programs were conducted for the Board members, Managers and phad munshi of the cooperative society to run the society by themselves. The training material, training manuals were prepared for the board members, phad munshis and managers of the forest cooperative with the help of the academy. In this training manual, we tried to simplify the forest policies, rules and regulation of the cooperatives act, the rights of the members in cooperatives, rights and duties of board member and managers.
The policy advocacy was done with the Madhya Pradesh Minor Forest Produce Federation for operating them at their own and in favour of forest workers.