Vol. 2 (S) Jun. 2020
Article ID. JHSSR-1052-2020[S]
COVID-19 and Lockdown in India: Challenges for the Tribal Economy of Odisha
Lockdown; tribal economy; food insecurity; minor forest produce; minimum support price; tribal rights
This paper, drawing on secondary sources and extensive fieldwork, grapples with the implications of lockdown for the tribal economy of Odisha. Minor forest produce (MFP) is a critical component of the tribal economy in Odisha. COVID-19 and subsequent mitigation measures such as lockdown and restriction on movement coincided with the peak season for gathering of MFP. Lockdown, by disrupting collection and trading of MFP, has severely affected the livelihood base of the tribal people and other forest dwellers. Governments at the Centre and state have taken up several measures to deal with this difficult situation. Governments exempted work under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Act (MGNREGA) and collection of MFP during the second phase of lockdown. However, distress sale of MFP and loss of income have emerged as major concerns due to delay in policy decisions. Reverse migration of laborers to tribal villages poses the new challenge to state’s preparedness. At a broader level, the current crisis situation reminds us to seriously think in the direction of implementing tribal rights over forest and forest produce.