Union minister Jual Oram today said that not much attention has been paid to the harnessing of "forest wealth" and there is a need to promote medicinal plants grown by tribal people to help them "achieve the true remuneration".
The Union Tribal Affairs Minister made the remarks during the signing of an MoU between the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development of Federation of India (TRIFED), Ministry of Tribal Affairs, and the National Medicinal Plants Board, Ministry of Ayush, to promote "medicinal forest produce for livelihood development of tribal people".
Oram said, "Till now, the focus had been on mining of minerals, be it iron ore, coal... which is non-renewable. But there is another wealth - minor forest produce - and not much attention has been paid to it. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has stressed on it. It is renewable and eco-friendly."
"We used to sell around 20 kg of mahua (a tribal drink) for 25 paise. Today, if we consider the minimum support price, the same amount will cost Rs 150-200," the minister said, underscoring the need for marketing of tribal products and medicinal plants grown by them.
To drive home his point, Oram said, "Maharishi Patanjali wrote about yoga and Ayurveda thousands of years ago, but the idea could not be propagated. Ramdev promoted yoga and Ayurveda and showed it can cure cancer and several other diseases."
People have not been able to explore the forest wealth, he said.
"Tribal people have been growing medicinal plants, but they are as yet unaware of the actual value of their produce. This MoU will help them realise the true potential of their products and achieve the true remuneration," he said.
"TRIFED has a lot of land and it can be utilised for this purpose. We have given a free hand to the officers to implement it... with full force ... at the earliest," he added.
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