5.1 Besides procurement and marketing of the tribal products which are the prime objectives of TRIFED as laid down in clause No.3.2.1.(v) of the Bye-laws of the Federation which reads as “to act as a warehousing agent under the warehousing act and rent or own godowns, cold storage and other premises”, TRIFED has established two warehouses of 5000 MTs capacity at Taloja, District Raigarh, New Mumbai for storage of tribal products being exported by the Federation. The construction of the first warehouse was completed in the year 1994 at a cost of Rs.160 lakhs and construction of the second warehouse was completed on February 1999 at a cost of Rs.2.12 crores.
5.2 During the year 1988-89 TRIFED had taken on lease an area of 1500 sq. meters at plot No.3, Sector 17, New Panvel, New Mumbai, from City Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO), New Mumbai at a total cost of Rs.24 lakhs. An office complex at a cost of Rs.2.6 crores (provisional) has been constructed at this site. The construction was completed in January 2000.
5.3 In the year 1988-89 an area of 3,500 sq.meters at Plot No.4, Sector 17, New Panvel, New Mumbai at the cost of Rs.28 lakhs was taken on lease by TRIFED from City Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO), Mumbai. It is proposed to build a residential complex for in-house use as well as for offering the same to other Government agencies is being examined.
5.4 The storage facilities are meant for use by the Federation for its stocks. This facility is also available for the use by members of the Federation working for the SCs and STs. Due to seasonality and fluctuations in the scale, nature of operations, it is often noticed that the storage space has to be let out to other uses. In doing so care is taken that financial viability of TRIFED is improved through prudent hiring out of the godown space after following proper procedure as applicable in this regard.
5.5 Further, TRIFED is in the process of identifying areas where further storage facilities can be established for benefiting the tribal community and facilitating the marketing of their products which will be taken up after assessing their viability. TRIFED has also observed that due to lack of cold storage facilities in the tribal areas it is compelled to procure smaller quantities though the potential is tremendous. In case TRIFED is provided with the requisite funds to construct cold storage with substantial storage facilities in tribal areas it would be in a position to procure maximum possible quantities of commodities particularly Tamarind, Mahua flower etc. which require storage in cold storages.
5.6 The Committee desire that TRIFED should complete the process of identification of areas for the setting up of storage facilities expeditiously. The Committee also urge the Govt. to provide necessary funds to the TRIFED for construction of more and more cold storage facilities in areas predominantly inhabited by the tribals so as to enable TRIFED to procure maximum quantities of commodities.
5.7 The Committee also note that TRIFED has established warehouses, godowns, office complex and residential complex in Mumbai which are meant for use by the Federation and members of the Federation. These facilities are often rented out to outsiders due to seasonality of its operations and also to improve the financial viability of the Federation. The Committee, therefore, recommend that these facilities should be extended firstly and preferably to individual tribals, tribal businessmen and traders, tribal entrepreneurs, tribal institutions and societies who wanted to do business or store goods or arrange sales thereof. The charges for renting out these facilities should be made as low as possible so that more tribals are encouraged to take up commercial activities.
5.8 The Committee have also observed that almost all the warehouses, godowns, office-cum-residential complex are located in cities like Mumbai. The Committee, therefore, recommend that TRIFED should not hesitate to set up such facilities in other states preferably in areas predominantly inhabited by tribals.
5.9 In the year 1988-89, TRIFED booked 6 shop-cum-godowns with the APMC, Mumbai, Maharashtra for allotment in new Mumbai. Against this APMC has allotted two shops No. 30 & 31 Block-V, in the month of November 1999 to TRIFED. TRIFED has so far paid only Rs.8, 48,456.00 as 40% of the total cost of these shops and has taken the possession of the shops and balance 60% amounting to Rs.12,72,684.00 has to be released in 108 monthly installments.
5.10 In the year 1988-89 the State Government of Madhya Pradesh allotted an area of 21.55 acres at village Semra, at 7th Milestone on Jagdalpur-Jeypore Road, Bastar District, Madhya Pradesh at a total cost of Rs.1.25 lakhs for establishing a tribal industrial complex. Since, on the preliminary study made by the TRIFED it was felt that the investment involved was very high and the Board of Directors in its 14th meeting held on 5.10.1990decided to put in abeyance all capital intensive projects. Keeping in view the present commercial requirements now it has been proposed to construct two cold storages of 5000 MTs capacity each, one warehouse of 2,500 MTs, an administrative Block and a hostel for tribal youth which is estimated to cost Rs.6 crores approximately. For this we have already appointed a consultant for conducting feasibility study and preparation of project report and the work is in progress.
5.11 The Committee note that two cold storages, one warehouse, an administrative Block and a hostel for tribal youth are to be constructed at Jagdalpur – Jeypore Road in Bastar District of Madhya Pradesh. The Committee are, constrained to note that TRIFED has taken almost one decade for taking a decision on the construction of Tribal Industrial Complex. The Committee, therefore, recommend that on completion of the construction of the projects, TRIFED may allow tribal entrepreneurs, businessmen, traders, merchants, tribal associations, societies and tribal institutions in and around the area to make use of the multi-facilities at an affordable rate so as to draw them towards commercial activities. The Committee may also be informed of the progress made in the construction of the projects.
5.12 In the year 1998-99 under the directions from the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment under whose administrative control TRIFED was functioning at that time, TRIFED established `Tribes shop’ on 9th April, 1999 at 9, Mahadev Road, New Delhi for retail marketing of tribal handicraft products, organic products from both the tribals and non-tribals and the products made by the physically and mentally challenged persons. The initial market study made by the Management Development Institute(MDI), Gurgaon had prepared economic feasibility study of the shop and stated that the project will attain viability i.e., become self sufficient only after 4 years of functioning.
5.13 As per the assurances given by the Ministry the entire expenditure was to be reimbursed by the Ministry till the project achieves viability. As on 31.3.2000 TRIFED has incurred an expenditure of Rs.193.18 lakhs on the project. So far only Rs.60 lakhs have been reimbursed by the Ministry. With the formation of Ministry of Tribal Affairs, no further reimbursements on this project are being made to TRIFED. Due to heavy investment and initial period the project is not commercially viable as of now. In the light of no funds coming from the Ministry, the Board of TRIFED resolved to gradually close down the project. Hence, TRIFED stopped all the procurement of tribal handicrafts w.e.f. 31.3.2000. Since the project was established at the instance of the Ministry, the matter has been placed before the Ministry of Tribal Affairs vide letter No.TFD/HO/TRIBES/99-2000 dated 2.5.2000 for suitable directions whether to continue or close the shop.
5.14 During the evidence, when the Committee pointed out the question of the decision of TRIFED to stop procurement of tribal handicrafts from 31.3.2000 and subsequent closure of the Tribes shop, the Secretary, Ministry of Tribal Affairs explained:
“As far as Tribes shop is concerned, the Minister has stated in Parliament that there was no proposal to close down the Tribes shop. It is already on record in Parliament. Tribes shop is a window of our tribal handicrafts and tribal handlooms – whether it is in textiles, bamboo, cane or metal from all over the country because it is offering all these things at a single place. These products are attracting people not only inside the country but even the foreign tourists are interested in them. Foreigners have now started realising the value of handmade artifacts produced in small numbers. They are ready to pay even higher amounts to purchase these products. They prefer these products to machine-made, mass produced ones. Tribes shop was started as a show window. If TRIFED is able to create a kind of chain of these shops, there are importers from abroad who are interested in these things.”
5.15 Further, during the course of evidence, the Managing Director clarified that based on the report of MDI, a Government of India research institute at Gurgaon this particular venture will take about four to seven years to stablise. Till such time, it required some kind of support. The project is not confined to retailing of tribal handicrafts only but products made by mentally and physically challenged people, which is very appreciable. It is a very noble project. But the point is that it has a financial implication. Elected representatives of Tribals thought that they should not carry on without any support because it is cutting into the money you would have otherwise spent for the tribals. We are happy that the Government has considered to the extent of about 16 lakhs. Tribal handicarfts deserve as much support as the mainstream handicraft has got support. We are continuing the discussion. It is not as if the Ministry is not working on it.
5.16 In the post-evidence replies the Committee have been informed that during the meeting held on 15.9.00 regarding the Tribes shop the Ministry of Tribal Affairs clarified that the shop must continue and accordingly procurement was resumed. Handicarfts worth over Rs.21.50 lakhs have been purchased so far during the current financial year upto 30.11.2000.
5.17 As regards the financial difficulties in running the Tribes shop, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, have also informed the Committee that TRIFED is supposed to act on commercial principles. It is supposed to procure the products from the tribals not at any prices at present being done by TRIFED but at price, which is related to market. TRIFED has already been asked to procure material in consonance with market demand. It has been observed that while procurement of TRIFED for Tribes shop has been about Rs.13 laksh per month, the sale is around Rs.2 lakhs. TRIFED will have to infuse professionalism to break even, even if they want to run it on no loss- no profit basis.
5.18 The Ministry has already reimbursed Rs.60 lakhs. However, the Tribes shop project is not covered under any scheme of the Ministry and the Ministry endeavour to widen the ambit of Price Support Scheme to cover the expenditure incurred under the present project has been turned down by both the Planning Commission and the Department of Expenditure. Thereafter, it has been decided that since the project is covered under activities enemurated in their bye-laws/MOU, TRIFED may pursue the project on its own. The decision has been conveyed to them time and again.
5.19 The Committee are happy to know that TRIFED has established the Tribes shop in Delhi – the first unit of the country having wide retail outlet which does not only showcase and market the various artistic and handicrafts items of the tribals but also art, craft and utility products produced by the physically challenged people to consumers in cities and towns. The Committee feel that the Tribes shop is a novel project and favour its continuation despite the various difficulties being faced by the Management of the Federation in running it. As pointed out by the Management Development Institute, Gurgaon, the project will take few more years to attain viability or self-sufficiency. Therefore, the Committee recommend that the Ministry of Tribal Affairs and the Management of the Federation should continue the project and give more material and financial support till the project becomes viable.
5.20 The Committee also recommend that in order to popularise the tribal products more retail-outlets of the type of Tribes shop should be set up in other metros and towns.
5.21 One of the main objectives of the TRIFED is to ensure full utilisation of natural products available in tribal areas including farm and forest produce by exploring new uses for the products and by improving their marketability through organised effort.
5.22 So far TRIFED has taken up small activities for development of Gum Karaya plantation in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat. In the year 1995-96 funding for a pilot plantation of 150 hectares at a total cost of Rs.10.52 lakhs was undertaken through the State Government of Andhra Pradesh in the district of Adilabad. Out of this total plantation 136 hectares has been completed and TRIFED has released an amount of Rs.7.02 lakhs so far. The production of gum is expected in ten years i.e. from 2005-2006.
5.23 In a written note furnished to the Committe regarding allocation of separate fund for carrying out research study and other development works for the welfare of SCs/STs, it has been stated that the matter (Research and Development activities) was discussed with the Planning Commission in their review meeting held on 10.3.2000 where it was stated by the Planning Commission that TRIFED should concentrate on selected activities with the involvement of the State federations for emerging as a profit making organizations through its commercial activities. The member Planning Commission had indicated that for Research there are various Institutes/commodity Board and hence, TRIFED need not take up research activity . As such during the meeting the Planning Commission did not allocate any funds for TRIFED on this account.
5.24 However, TRIFED has established contact with leading/national level institutions for undertaking Research & Development works on MFPs. TRIFED has been coordinating with the Indian Lac Research Institute functioning under the council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Ranchi, Central Food Technology Research Institute, Mysore; Central Drug Research Institute in Lucknow for training in Medicinal Herbs; Dr. M.S. SwaminathanResearch Foundation, Chennai and National Association for Small Agro Business established with participation from the Ministry of Agriculture. TRIFED also proposed to set up dry yards in tribal areas, especially in the State of Chattisgarh and also a training complex in Bastar. A proposal for setting up the grower village in Gujarat in colloboration with BHASA Research Institute and in Tamil Nadu in collobration with Centre for Indian Knowledge Systems, Chennai a reputed NGO.
5.25 TRIFED has sponsored a techno – economic feasibility study of Ginger and other spices and Hill brooms in the North Eastern States, Sikkim and Siliguri (W.B.) through Agricultural Finance Corporation. A draft report has been received.
5.26 Research and Development is essential for any commercial organisation for exploring new uses, value addition and improvement of quality of the various produce for marketability and profits. The Planning Commission might not be in favour of TRIFED having separate Research and Development due to resource constraints and existence of many national institutes of repute and NGOs for Research and Development, the Committee however, feel that R&D should not be neglected and desire that the Ministry of Tribal Affairs to allocate separate funds specifically for this programme.
5.27 The Committee note that TRIFED has undertaken a pilot project of Gum Karaya plantation (150 hectares) at Adilabad district in Andhra Pradesh – the production of which is expected from 2005-2006. Trifed has also proposed to set up dry yards in Chattisgarh and a grower village in Gujarat and Tamil Nadu in colloboration with BHASA Research Institute and Centre for Indian Knowledge systems. Besides, TRIFED has sponsored a techno-economic feasibility study of Ginger, Spices, Hill brooms in the north-eastern states. The Committee appreciate all the programmes undertaken by TRIFED but desire that more research and development should to be carried out in farm and forest produces, coffee, tea and rubber plantations especially in areas where the soil and climatic conditions are favourable.