Union minister Jual Oram yesterday said there is an urgent need to bridge the "stark differences" between the prices farmers get for their produce and the prevailing market rates.
He cited the example of prices of tomatoes in the country, saying while a kilo in his village would fetch just 25 paise, the same quantity would cost Rs 25 in Delhi.
The tribal affairs minister made the remarks at an event where five-time world champion boxer MC Mary Kom was named the brand ambassador of Tribes India, an initiative of his ministry.
"In my village, one kg of tomatoes cost 25 paise. The price in Delhi is Rs 25 per kg. The country is grappling with this disparity. There's a need to bridge this price gap and we are making efforts in this regard," Mr Oram said.
He also stressed the need for diversification of agriculture and said only increasing agricultural production is not the aim of the government.
Mr Oram said the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development of Federation of India (TRIFED) has opened 103 outlets all over the country and has registered a 300 per cent increase in sales of tribal products.
"People are viewing SAIL, NTPC, Coal India as large public sector undertakings but TRIFED has a more potential than them," he said.
TRIFED, under the tribal affairs ministry, is marketing the products that tribal people manufacture. 'Tribes India' is the brand name.
"Believe me, we have got extraordinary artisans and they will leave you surprised," Mr Oram said.
He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government believes in the principle of Antyodaya or the uplift of the most downtrodden and therefore, tribal people come first.
He also urged officials working at the grass-roots level to provide feedback on the implementation of the ministry's programmes to promote tribal art and products.
At the function, ace pugilist Mary Kom, who belongs to Manipur's Kom tribe, said, "I am so happy to be a brand ambassador of a good initiative by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
"I am from Manipur and I hope my association with Tribes India will bring great change in the life of tribal community financially and economically. I will try from my end to help the tribal people come forward."
Secretary, Tribal Affairs Ministry, Deepak Khandekar said tribal products are assets that can change the country's economy.
He said Mary Kom's always practising for the upcoming bouts and her hard work sends out a message that we should not be satisfied with one or two achievements.
"Mary Kom wins a gold medal whenever she throws a punch. We also want to make our every effort successful in the same way," he said.
At the event, Mary Kom also launched Tribes India's "Punch Tantra" Diwali collection a range of tribal artefacts including handlooms and handicrafts.
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