Tribals get peanuts for forest produce

Unauthorised agents exploit tribals by offering less price in Naravi

Tribals get peanuts for forest produce

Tribals allege that they are being cheated by the unauthorised agents, who purchase forest produces including nutmeg (Rampatre) and bay leaves at a very low price even when there is good market for the produces in the open market.

Most of the forest dwellers in Kuthlur and other regions in the panchayat blame that unauthorised agents exploit them by offering less price at the weekly fare at Naravi town on Saturdays and thereby they lose huge amount of money. To avoid long journey carrying the bags of forest produces to Belthangadi, many tribals sell it at Naravi itself. “We enter deep forest to collect Rampatre by putting strenous effort. However, we get a maximum of Rs 220 per kilogram even when the market price is above Rs 430,” said Ganesh, a tribal youth.

Similarly, tribals also were being cheated by the agents while purchasing bay leaves too. “While the market price of one kilogram of bay leaves is Rs 140 outside, we get only Rs 20 at Naravi,” says Narayana, another tribal in Kuthlur.

Former President of the Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) Krishnaraj Hegde said that there are Scheduled Tribe Multipurpose Co-operative Societies (STMCS) in every taluk in the district to purchase forest produce from tribals. A STMCS branch is there in Belthangadi town, however, he said, tribals do not get actual price due to the intervention of middlemen. STMCS auction the produces by paying tax to the APMC, he said adding that APMC does not interfere in the market of forest produces directly.

Meanhwile, Narayana alleged that those agents who purchase forest produces at Naravi have links to STMCS. “They buy produces at a very low price and sell it for a good deal at STMCS,” he said adding that the problems can be sorted out only through the intervention of APMC.

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