Van Dhan Vikas Kendra – creating and adding value to Seasonal Forest Products
Van Dhan Yojana, implemented by TRIFED, aims at setting up cluster-level units for processing of to create and add value at the local level. These clusters, called Van Dhan Vikas Kendra, cover several Self Help Groups (SHGs) located in forest areas and ensure 50 percent membership of women. In Korchi block of Gadchiroli district, there are four active clusters or VDKs, involving SHGs from nine villages. One cluster can have up to 300 members of which at least 150 are women. Currently, these VDKs are providing infrastructure and working capital to aggregate and sell Seasonal Forest Products. In the last two years, one VDK sold more than 150 quintals of mahua flowers and seeds, hirda fruit, and chironji seeds, creating a profit of around 2 lakh Rupees.
The Initiative on the Forest Economy at ISB aims to build upon the institutional platform provided by Van Dhan Yojana. We will collaborate with UMED – the Maharashtra State Rural Livelihood Mission – to involve 689 women SHGs in the Korchi block in building a women-led forest-based enterprise. The linkage of these clusters will create economies of scale and opportunities to sell to big buyers at better prices. Our initiative will attempt to bring women to the forefront in this value chain by cultivating and nurturing their leadership potential. Our focus is on building capacity at the local level through training in the mechanized collection, value addition, and the financial as well as the operational management of SFP-based enterprises.