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Odisha to create 'Forest Product Clusters' to boost economic activities in hilly, forest areas

ANI | Updated: Jul 25, 2020 07:51 IST

Bhubaneswar (Odisha) [India], July 25 (ANI): The Odisha government has announced its decision to create 'Forest Product Clusters' for boosting economic activities in hilly and forest areas amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
A high-power committee meeting of forestry sector development society held under the chairmanship of Chief Secretary Asit Tripathy to discuss the possible interventions in the livelihood sector confirmed the matter.
An official statement said, "Sustainable livelihood and income-generating activities have been taken up in 12 territorial forest divisions on joint forest management (JFM) mode with the direct participation of Vana Surakshya Samities (VSSs) and Self Help Groups (SHGs) under the Odisha Forestry Sector Development Project (OFSDP) Phase-II."
While reviewing the present status and prospective possibilities in the sector, the Chief Secretary directed the officials to intensify income generation activities through forward and backward linkages.
He also asked them to identify forest division-specific 'product clusters' and scale up those through interdepartmental convergence in terms of resources, technical support, skill-building and marketing.
Tripathy directed to maximise the convergence of resources from OSFDP, MGNREGS, OLM, OTELP plus and other similar activities.

Additional Chief Secretary Mona Sharma suggested to take up the farm, non-farm and non-timber forest produce (NTFP) based livelihood interventions through community-level institutions.
During the meeting, it was decided to map local availability of different products and establish the 'product clusters' like sal seed involving 435 VSSs, tamarind involving 242 VSSs, harida involving 260 VSSs, bahada involving 258 VSSs, char involving 333 VSSs, cashew involving 121 VSSs, mango involving 223 VSSs, mahua involving 395 VSSs, and neem seed cluster involving 187 VSSs.
The state government will be establishing a Livelihood Resource Centre to provide technical input, required skill, training and linking to financial institutions along with the continuous handholding support for product development, branding and marketing linkages.
OFSDP Director Sudarshan Panda informed Tripathy that 778 VSSs covering around 50,000 households in the project villages of 12 forest divisions have been linked up with respective departments for carrying forward the livelihood activities in the mushroom cultivation, honey collection and processing, kitchen garden, poultry, pisciculture, dairy, pickle making and marketing of NTFP items like harida, bahada, amla, tamarind, hill broom and jhuna.
He further said, "Seven Sal leaf making clusters have been set up at the forest divisions namely Baripada, Rairangpur, Karanjia, Keonjhar, Baliguda and Phulbani involving 4,645 households organized under 460 SHGs."
The committee also approved 497 community development projects estimated around Rs 11.38 crores through convergence with MGNREGS. These projects will be implemented through VSSs.
Around Rs 1000.30 crores would be invested in the development of the forest ecosystem and sustainable livelihood activities through joint forest management approach under OFSDP, phase II. (ANI)