Prepare startup roadmap for tribals

Come out with a roadmap on ‘Startups’ for tribal entrepreneurs who are ready to embrace new opportunities, a Parliamentary panel has said.

These ventures could be on “co-operative model” with locally available natural resources, generating employment and sustainable development opportunities for tribal women.

Acknowledging that tribal women of-late have been engaging themselves in different economic activities, the Committee on Empowerment of Women led by Bijoya Chakravarty has asked the government to prepare a plan in next six months and seek opinion of states.

Pitching for diversification of economic activities, the panel said tribal women should be encouraged and provided the expertise in other vocations as well as of late, agriculture is going through a rough patch owing to the vagaries of nature and market volatilities.

In this regard, the Committee stressed the need for setting up ‘micro startups’ and ‘agro startups’ especially designed for tribal societies.

It wanted the Tribal Ministry, which the panel described as a “mute spectator to the plight of the tribals in general and tribal women in particular”, and concerned agencies to chalk out a “perspective plan” for implementation with a specific time frame.

The panel cited the experiences of ‘Urlong tea project’, an agro startup in Meghalaya, saying it may be worth-exploring and used as a reference point for drafting a roadmap for such initiatives. Located in Mawlyngot village, 45 km off the Shillong, the project was started in 2011.

It gained the attention of people and experts for its commitment to organic farming and the social change it has brought into the lives of people, especially women, in neighbouring villages. It produces black, green and white tea under the brand name ‘Urlong’ and its products are in huge demands that are mostly met through brick and mortar stores as well as online platforms in markets.

The panel also commended the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India Ltd’s (TRIFED) pro-active role in imparting training to tribal women in many fields, including shouldering the task of a facilitator and service provider to tribal business ventures.

It suggested that while, handicrafts made by tribal women are accorded the status of heritage items by connoisseurs, there is a need to align these products to prevailing markets demands and tastes of consumers.

“This mass acceptability is needed to make tribal products cost effective, thereby generating revenues for tribal artisans in the long-run,” it added.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on May 9, 2016)

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