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Velugu plans procurement centres for non-timber forest produces in AP

M. Somasekhar

Hyderabad , March 19

IN an effort to help the rural landless poor, especially tribals, get a better deal for their non-timber forest produces (NTFP), the Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty (SERP or Velugu), has decided to set up about 6,000 procurement centres across the State.

"Our idea is to ensure that a self-help group (SHG) should be able to reach these Centres within a distance of 2-3 km and participate in the sale of produce, which it obtains from the tribal or landless poor," said Mr T. Vijaykumar, CEO, SERP.

The procurement centres and a systematic marketing linkage would benefit these people as both transportation and transaction costs can be cut.

Experiences for rice in Guntur, soyabean and lac in Adilabad have clearly demonstrated the advantages and the poor were able to make more money, Mr Vijaykumar told Business Line.

SERP also conducted a pilot project on the procurement of neem fruit in Kosigi mandal of Mahbubnagar district through market interventions.

"The community not only gained confidence and earned profits but realised how they were being exploited in weighing of produce, price offered by traders and middlemen and the avoidable expenditure on transport."

Encouraged by the response, SERP proposes to take up marketing interventions on a large scale in Velugu Mandals in all the districts in 2004-05, particularly NTFPs and medicinal plants through SHGs by ensuring close liaison with the Girijan Co-operative Corporation (GCC).

Explaining a typical marketing intervention recently, Mr Vijaykumar said that procurement of soyabean in Adilabad district was undertaken for 2003-04 after conducting preliminary surveys and interactions with the village officers (VOs).

The pilot intervention aimed at benefiting the tribal farmers resulted in the procurement of 3,200 quintals of soyabean valued at Rs 32.20 lakh. This earned a profit of Rs 3.50 lakh and helped around 800 families.

Based on this experience the community decided to go for large-scale procurement of soyabean during the 2003-04 crop season. The result was a manifold increase to 14,845 quintals, valued at Rs 1.60 crore.

SERP opened 59 village procurement centres in 10 mandals. The entire material was sold, earning a profit of Rs 20.48 lakh. The VOs desired to keep 50 per cent of the profit and distribute the rest to the farmers, he added.

The bottomline is that the community has started gaining confidence and is planning to expand the soyabean crop in the next crop season.

More Stories on : Rural Development | Andhra Pradesh

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