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A Hub for Tribal Entrepreneurship: Madhya Pradesh

The state government led by Chief Minister Shri Shivraj Singh Chouhan initiated many several schemes-projects for the tribal youth and those interested in adopting business activities is proving to be beneficial for them. 

SNS | New Delhi |

The Scheduled Tribes of Madhya Pradesh is known for its unique culture. Citizens belonging to Scheduled Tribes (ST), who were subjected to various form of exploitation and were criminalised during the colonial era thereby denied economic opportunities, have now taken to the path of economic entrepreneurship. Concerted efforts of the state government have enabled the scheduled tribes to move towards economic entrepreneurship and adopt new micro-economic activities. In the last one and a half decades, many examples have surfaced which prove that the younger generation of today aspires to augment their income through economic activities.

The state government led by Chief Minister Shri Shivraj Singh Chouhan initiated many several schemes-projects for the tribal youth and those interested in adopting business activities is proving to be beneficial for them. 

Many economic activities have emerged in tribal-dominated areas. There has been a rise in the number of non-agricultural economic activities apart from traditional economic activities like goat rearing, poultry farming and fisheries.

Tribal women embraced entrepreneurship by operating a rice mill in Chirgaon, Balaghat. Until yesterday these women were working as labourers in this rice mill and today, they have become the owners of this mill. The owner wanted to sell this rice mill in the lockdown period. These women decided to form their own group, buy the mill and run it successfully on their own. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi also appreciated and discussed this resourcefulness of the women in “Mann Ki Baat” programme. Now these women are earning a profit of up to Rs. 3 lakhs a month and are engaged in making new strategies to further their business.

In Sidhi district, tribal women are busy manufacturing Kodo to earn their livelihoods. Central Tribal University Amarkantak and Sidhi district administration are preparing to launch the brand name ‘Sonanchal Kodo’ in the market with their coordinated efforts. Tribal women are directly associated with this initiative. They are putting in their efforts to make Kodo a symbol of their economic self-sufficiency. Soon ‘Sonanchal Kodo’ brand will be available in the market.

Similarly, tribal women of Dindori district have prepared many products of Kodo-Kutki and introduced them in the market under the brand name ‘Bharti Brand’. The women of Baiga tribe of 41 villages of the district have started cultivation of Kodo-Kutki. Around 1,500 women have started cultivating Kodo-Kutki on 700 acres of land on an experimental basis. This effort, which started in the year 2012 started producing results within three years. Kodo production reached about 15,000 quintals. In view of the popularity of Kodo products, a processing unit has now started functioning in the nearby Nainpur. Subsequently, now Kodo-Kutki is being cultivated on a large scale in Dindori district and they are getting good prices.

Shri Ramniwas Maurya, a tribal farmer of Dindori district also operates the grain bank. Through this they make Kodo-Kutki seeds available to the farmers so that the production of Kodo-Kutki keeps increasing. He says that in the last few years the demand for coarse cereals like Kodo-Kutki has increased in the market. Kodo-Kutki can also be grown in less water, hence its production cost is also low.

Falam Sampada Company

Now it is a thing of the past when people who consumed Kodo-Kutki were considered poor. Kodo-Kutki is now included as a nutritious meal. It has become the first choice for the health-conscious citizens living in urban areas. Turning this change in food habits into a financial opportunity, a Falam Sampada Farmer producer company of tribal farmers of a remote Jamuniya village of Dobe gram panchayat in tribal Tamia development block in Chhindwara district has presented a series of natural foods.

Falam Sampada Company manufactures more than two dozen products which include honey, mahua cookies, kodo cookies, multigrain flour, maize toast, packed imli, jamun vinegar, Triphala ayurvedic powder, amla powder, sama bhaat, kodo biscuits and maize atta.

Director of the Company Shri Gurudayal Dhurve says, ‘We are only five years old. We started it under the Companies Act in 2014 with an initial capital of Rs. 6 lakhs. We have more than 3,000 acres of agricultural land in the surrounding villages of Dobe Gram Panchayat. The product preparation, packaging and marketing all take place at Jamuniya Processing Centre.

Female employee of the company manages the processing and packaging. After initial training, he has acquired proficiency in his work. Twenty-seven-year-old Vandana is involved in the processing of the initial products. She has experience from booking stalls to management during various trade fairs. She tells that initially it was a bit difficult, but I do everything easily and teach women who wish to learn.

Sheela Bai is the most experienced woman. She knows how to preserve raw agricultural products. “It’s my favourite job,’ she says. Another member Shanti Bai handles the packaging material. She knows the benefits of good packaging. “The quality of products is judged by the quality of the packaging, so we take great care of that,” she says.