Context:In the recently released lockdown relaxations, the Ministry of Home Affairs has added few new activities to the list of activities that will be permitted.

More about the guidelines issued :

  • Minor forest produce in exemption list:
    • It has added the collection, harvesting and processing of minor forest produce to the list of activities that will be permitted.
    • Minor forest produce(MFP) includes non-timber items such as bamboo and other grasses, edible or useful roots, seeds, fruits, flowers and plants.
  • Exemptions to credit providers:
    • Cooperative credit societies, which are crucial to provide crop loans to farmers, will be exempted. 
    • Non- banking financial institutions, including housing finance companies and microfinance institutions, will also be allowed to function with a bare minimum of staff.
  • Inclusion of the plantations:
    • The recently released guidelines have also expanded the types of plantations that will be permitted to resume activities with half their workforce from April 20 onwards.
    • Earlier, tea, coffee and rubber plantations were given exemptions from the lockdown. 
    • In the new guidelines bamboo, cocoa, arecanut, and spices plantations most of which are clustered in the southern States  will be added to the list.
    • Harvesting, processing, packaging, sale and marketing of the same will also be allowed.
  • Change in list of permitted construction activities in rural areas:
    • New guidelines have also added to the list of construction activities in rural areas which will be exempted from the lockdown from April 20. 
    • These now include construction projects related to water supply and sanitation, as well as the installation of power transmission lines and telecom optic fibre and cable.

What is Forest Produce?

Section 2(4) of the Indian Forest Act 1927 defines only "forest-produce" and this term connotes to those products whether found in, or brought from a forest such as

  • Timber, trees and leaves 
  • Plants not being trees (including grass, creepers, reeds and moss), and all parts or produce of such plants,
  • wild animals and skins, 
  • peat, surface soil.

What is Minor Forest Produce (MFP)?

  • It is a subset of forest produce.
  • The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, defines a Minor Forest Produce (MFP) as all non-timber forest produce of plant origin and includes bamboo, brushwood, stumps, canes, Tusser, cocoon, honey, waxes, Lac, tendu/kendu leaves, medicinal plants and herbs, roots, tuber and the like.
  • Thus, the definition of “minor forest produce” includes bamboo and cane, thereby changing the categorization of bamboo and cane as “trees” under the Indian Forest Act 1927.