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20 Feb, 2012

Helping Tribals Alleviate Poverty by Enhancing The Value of Forest Products


Ministry of Tribal Affairs, 17 February 2012 – This report describes the work of the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India Limited (TRIFED) which began operating in 1988 to market tribal products.

Forests provide 60% of the food & medicinal needs of tribals and 60% of their income — their food, fodder, fruits, medicines, shelter, rituals, recreations and cultural activities all come from the forests. “Minor forest produce” includes all non-timber forest produce of plant origin including bamboo, brush wood, stumps, cane, tassar, cocoons, honey, wax, lac, tendu or kendu leaves, medicinal plants and herbs, roots and tubers.

For example, India produces about 55,000 tons of honey per annum, making it the sixth largest producer of honey in the world. A large number of tribal population & forest dwellers earn a livelihood from the collection of wild forest honey which forms a major chunk of honey produce.

According to one estimate, India has a potential for about 120 million bee colonies, which can provide self-employment to over 6 million rural & tribal families. In terms of production, these bee colonies can produce over 1.2 million tons of honey and about 15,000 tons of bee wax. Organized collection of wild honey & bee wax using improved methods can result in an additional production of at least 120,000 tons of honey & 10,000 tons of beewax. This can generate income to about 5 million tribal families.

Presently the collection, processing and marketing of wild honey is unorganized. There is no authentic information readily available on wild honey relating to the quantum of collection, traditional tribes collecting the honey, its demand and supply position, different varieties of honey based on its flora/ bee species, major sourcing areas, procuring agencies, processing industries, marketing agencies, etc. which is very essential for efficient and effective regulation of trade of this commodity. Realizing the need for coordination and linkage among stake holders in wild honey and to develop the market of wild honey in an organized manner, TRIFED has taken the initiative to create a “Wild Honey Network”.


Although its earlier mandate was for the procurement and sale of Minor Forest Produce & Surplus Agricultural Produce, in 2003, after the new Multi-State Cooperative Societies Act, 2002 came into force, TRIFED started functioning as a Service provider, Facilitator, Coordinator and a Market Developer for tribal products. It is located in New Delhi and has a network of 13 Regional Offices around the country as well as a Central Warehouse at Delhi.

TRIFED has been doing the retail marketing of tribal products through its 27 own outlets under the brand name called TRIBES INDIA and also through 14 State Emporia on consignment basis. It aims to improve the livelihood of the tribal communities by creating a sustainable market and create business opportunities for them based on their cultured knowledge and traditional skills whilst ensuring fair and equitable remuneration. For this purpose, TRIFED is marketing tribal products through its owned 27 unique showrooms and 15 consigned showrooms in association with State level Organizations promoting handicrafts. TRIFED has recently established showrooms at Shimla in Himachal Pradesh, Indore in Madhya Pradesh and at GPO, Mumbai in Maharashtra.

Major Activities

Exhibitions: TRIFED started organizing the National Tribal Craft Expo AADISHILP to help tribal artisans/groups/organizations showcase their rich tribal heritage and ethnic crafts and to interact directly with art lovers to learn about their taste and preferences. This helps them adapt their product designs and creations accordingly. It has organized Aadishilp at Shimla, Hyderabad, Bhopal, Bangalore, Jaipur and New Delhi, beside organizing the same regularly every year at Dilli Haat. The event also includes tribal dance performances.

Encouraging response was given to exhibition of tribal products held at Amritsar, Jallandhar and Delhi organized by TRIFED. It has also participated in the OCTAVE – a dance festival of North Eastern Region, organized by Ministry of Culture. TRIFED participated in OCTAVE festivals at Goa, Mumbai, Trivandrum, Patna Surat & Kolkata. TRIFED also organizes participation of artisans from North Eastern region to showcase and market their products.

International Fairs: TRIFED identified Santa Fe, USA Folk art market as one of the place where tribal products can be exhibited and marketed.. It is an annual event and TRIFED will encourage its artisans to participate in this folk art market. One stall was allotted to TRIFED at Santa Fe Folk Art Market, USA during the month of July 2009 where products worth app Rs.13.50 lakhs were sold in two days.

Tribal Artisan Melas: TRIFED initiated a new concept of organizing Tribal Artisan Mela (TAM) as an exercise to reach tribals located in interior tribal areas and source tribal art and craft directly from the tribal artisans/groups of artisans. The merchandising team identifies the items which can be marketed through its outlets and also suggests the modifications if any, required to make the items more marketable. This initiative not only helps in sourcing unique tribal art and craft but also helps in spreading message about TRIFED’s activities and how tribals can avail of the benefits of TRIFED’s activities. This year, TRIFED organised seven Tribal Artisan Mela at Rekong & Kelong (HP), Gangtok (Sikkim), Vansda & Vyara (Gujarat), Mandla (MP) and Dimapur (Nagaland) wherein 303 tribal artisans participated.

TRIFED has established a Quality Control Research & Development Centre at NSC Beej Bhawan, IARI Campus, Pusa Complex, New Delhi 110012. Its R&D Centre is equipped with modern/sophisticated instruments to test & certify internal samples like Spices, MFPs like Honey & Tamarind, Dry fruits, Herbal Products, Processed Meat & fish products.

MFP Training & Development: TRIFED undertakes the following broad activities in the MFP sector:

(1) Vocational Training, Skill Upgradation & Capacity Building of Honey Gatherers and Gum Pickers.

(2) MFP Marketing Development activity: TRIFED promotes value added products of tamarind and its by-products, value added products of Honey and its by-products, trains Mahuwa Flower collectors on the best practices of Mahuwa Flower collection, drying/primary processing, grading, packing, value addition, storage & marketing etc., train & demonstrate scientific method of cultivation of Lac for sustained Lac production, train the tribals in leaf cup/plate making to enhance the quantity and quality of production by use of machines.

Handicraft Training: Since time immemorial craft sector in India has grown in its spontaneity from one generation to the next by the inherent creative aptitude of the people to work with natural resources of our country. Later the subsistence need of the people have ensured more dependence on the sector and made it a flourishing economic activity. Notwithstanding the phenomena of worldwide recession, industrial sickness, natural calamities etc. all over, this sector has been registering steady growth in terms of export and foreign exchange earning besides providing gainful employment (both fulltime and part-time) to around 8 million artisans of the country of which a large section belong to socio-economically poor and marginalized population.

At present, craft sector has assumed 1/5th share of the total house-hold industry in the country. But unfortunately the revenues earned from this sector are not adequately reaching the artisans and crafts persons who remain at the mercy of the middleman, trader and exporter for both sustained earning and exposure to the marketable designs with change frequently with time. In order to address this problem and safeguard as well as promote the craft and tribal artisans involved in this sector, TRIFED has envisaged undertaking Skill Upgradation Trainings and Design Development Workshops.

Out of the handicraft artisans of disadvantaged communities, tribal artisans are the target beneficiaries as per the mandate of the TRIFED. These tribal beneficiaries pursue handicraft activity on individual basis in their house-hold set up. Thus their family income is abysmally low as against the effort made by them in producing and selling the handicraft items. Hence there is a necessity to organize them into producer groups and offer them a platform so that they can leverage the benefits of various interventions made by Govt. organizations including TRIFED.