TRIFED under Ministry of Tribal Affairs has written to the Chief Secretaries of States and Union Territories and all State Level Nodal Agencies regarding combating the impact of Pandemic COVID-19 on Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFP) Trade and Tribal interests. In a letter, MD, TRIFED, Shri Pravir Krishna has said that Pandemic COVID-19 has posed an unprecedented difficulty across the world. Almost all the States and UTs in India are affected by it, in varying degrees including all sectors of trade and industry and all segments of society. The tribes are no exception especially this being the peak season for NTFP in many regions.
The letter says that it is, therefore, necessary to think in advance about certain precautionary measures to be taken to protect all, especially tribal-gatherers. The states have been communicated the key points which are illustrative and not exhaustive. There may be several State-specific and/or NTFP-specific points that States may like to include in this list. TRIFED requests the States and all State Level Nodal Agencies to ensure that these points reach the persons at the cutting edge (tribal gatherers as also their field-level functionaries) at the earliest.
DO’s and DON’Ts RELATING TO NTFP DURING COVID-19 SCARE
- Unscrupulous market forces may try to exploit the tribal gatherers by pushing them to distress sale of NTFP. Hence, the MFP scheme will need to be implemented with extra energy, especially in the most vulnerable areas.
- The NTFP gatherers must be advised regarding hygiene in NTFP collection work. They must sanitize their hands before and after collection work.
- Hand sanitizers must be placed at the entrance of all NTFP primary processing centres, including Van Dhan Vikas Kendras. Every processor must sanitize her hands before entering the centre and starting to work.
- The processors must not sit cluttered in the processing centres. They must be at least 2 meters away from each other. If the space in the centre is a constraint, they must be advised to work in different shifts or work from home under clean conditions.
- Any person who has any form of cold or cough must not be allowed into the centre and all gatherers and processors must observe social distancing, especially from such persons.
- If a gatherer (or anybody in her house) shows the slightest signs of Covid19, they should be subjected to screening and, if necessary, quarantining.
- The packing material for NTFP must be clean and without damage so that the handlers do not come in contact with the NTFP.
- To the extent possible, cash transactions must be minimized and amounts must be credited into the bank accounts of the gatherers. The gatherers must be encouraged and supported to adopt cashless practices through Government platforms like RuPay.