Katkari is one of the 75 Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups, as per the classification by Ministry of Home Affairs. It is a primitive tribe found in Maharashtra (Pune, Raigad and Thane districts) and parts of Gujarat. Katkaris are also known as Kathodis because of their old occupation of making Katha (Catechu) the thickened sap from wood of Khair ( Acacia catechu).
They serve as agricultural labourers and sell firewood and some jungle fruits. They also take up fishing for domestic consumption, coal making and brick manufacturing. Poor literacy rates, health conditions and minimal livelihood opportunities are some of the issues faced by the tribal people.
Sunil Pawar, a young lad and his friends started the enterprise “Adivasi Ekatmik Samajik Sanstha” at Shahapur in Thane, which markets Giloy and other products. Giloy is a medicinal plant with huge demand from pharmaceutical companies. Initially they sold Giloy in local markets. A good samaritan in the form of Shri Arun Pansare saw their efforts and offered them a place to start their office. Once they started working from an office situated near the market area, more tribals came to know about it and started joining them.
Pradhan Mantri Van Dhan Yojana (PMVDY) is a retail marketing led value addition plan for Minor Forest Produce (MFP), meant for forest-based tribes to optimize the tribal income, locally. Under the program, MFP-based tribal groups / enterprises of around 300 members are formed for collection, value addition, packaging & marketing of Minor Forest Produces (MFPs).
These tribal enterprises will be in the form of Van Dhan SHGs which will be a group of 15-20 members and such 15 SHG groups will further be federated into a larger group of Van Dhan Vikas Kendras (VDVKS) of around 300 members.
TRIFED will support the VDVKs through providing them with model business plans, processing plans and tentative list of equipment for carrying out the value addition work of MFPs.
Sunil Pawar received support from the scheme through the Nodal Agency - ST Welfare Department, Govt. of Maharashtra.
Sunil Pawar expanded the business beyond local market and pharma companies to far away markets with the help of big retail chains like D-Mart. A website to facilitate online sales has also been.
Efforts were made by Adivasi Ekatmik Samajik Sanstha, Shahapur co-ordinated by Sunil to not only expand the market for the produce but also to diversify into other forest products. They have started collecting and selling the 7 types of Samidha (sacrificial offerings made mostly of wood) which are offered in the holy fire during the performance of Puja.
Shabri Adivasi Vitta Vikas Mahamandal under Government of Maharashtra plans to train these SHGs in establishing backward and forward linkages for their produce. In backward linkages, the tribals are to be trained to pick giloy without affecting its long-term availability and also about plantation of the same. In forward linkages, training on processing the giloy into making different products which will fetch better price is to be given.
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