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With digital tutorials, govt teaching tribals why social distancing, washing hands important

Ministry teams up with UNICEF to launch digital campaign that will inform tribal people on the importance of social distancing, washing hands and sanitation.

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New Delhi: The Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED), which functions under the tribal affairs ministry, has collaborated with UNICEF to develop a digital communication strategy to spread awareness on the coronavirus in the country’s tribal areas.

The drive will be carried out through a digital campaign with the help of self-help groups (SHGs).

UNICEF has provided virtual training content that will be used at the Van Dhan Vikas Kendras opened for tribals across the country. The tutorials will inform tribals about the essential preventive measures to be taken — steps like social distancing, washing hands and sanitisation.

The Van Dhan Vikas Kendras are collection and distribution centres for minor forest produce brought by tribals. They are part of the Pradhan Mantri Van Dhan Yojana (PMVDY), a flagship scheme of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.

The kendras help the tribal communities sell the minor forest produce to state agencies at a fixed minimum price. A total of 1,205 Van Dhan Vikas Kendras support 18,075 Van Dhan SHGs across the country. As a first step, 15,000 of these SHGs will be promoted as Van Dhan Social Distancing Awareness cum Livelihood Centres.

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TRIFED webinar held for training

TRIFED held a webinar Thursday afternoon to conduct a training of trainers. In the webinar that lasted for three hours, TRIFED MD Pravir Krishna and his team held a training session for 3,000 trainers who will in turn reach out to the tribal families working with them.

In the meeting, Krishna also talked about how the tribal centres are looking into the production of masks and soaps using local produce.

“We have come to realise that soaps are indispensable in maintaining hygiene and preventing Covid-19. We will reach out to our VDVKs and find out areas manufacturing soaps and masks using minor forest and non timber produce,” Krishna said at the webinar. “We will be consolidating them at TRIFED centres to ensure they can be sent to areas that require them.”

The aim of this webinar is to reach as many trainers as possible, Krishna said, adding TRIFED aims to bring awareness among 50 lakh tribals in the country.

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Ministry wants states to continue procuring forest produce

In a letter written to 15 state governments Tuesday, Union Minister for Tribal Affairs Arjun Munda has requested state nodal agencies to procure minor forest produce (MFP) at the minimum support price (MSP) at the earliest possible. He added that tribal communities are most vulnerable in this situation due to their marginalisation and economic status amid the lockdown.

The 15 states he addressed include Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Assam and Andhra Pradesh.

He also highlighted that since this is peak season for collection and harvest of minor forest produce (MFP) and non timber forest produce (NTFP), proactive measures needed to be taken to ensure not just the wellbeing of tribals but that of their economy as well.

The letter also mentioned that funds have been made available with these 15 states under the PMVDY and additional funds, if required, shall be made available by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.

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