When you want to sell bottles of pure, organic honey, insomnia-alleviating malkangani oil and other herbal products, what is the best way?The Maharashtra forest department has the answer: rope in Baba Ramdev.Finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar told dna that he would meet the yoga evangelist with officials on Tuesday in Mumbai to explore the possibilities of marketing the forest produce through Ramdev’s Patanjali outlets. Mungantiwar also holds the forest portfolio.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Not that the forest department does not have its own chain of shops. It has the ‘Jan Dhan, Van Dhan’ outlets to market forest produce and handicrafts.But tying up with established players like Patanjali would add value to the products and get marketing potential, say officials.Though the plan is at an early stage now, the state seems to have done some homework.For one, it doesn’t mind its products being sold under the Patanjali brand. What matters is that they should sell, said officials.The state also has some funding solutions ready. “We will show him our products and if the company is ready to market them, we will train our people. Finance can be sourced through MUDRA (Micro Units Development and Refinance Agency) Bank,” said Mungantiwar.”The funds generated will be passed on to the joint forest management committees (JFMC), which collect the produce,” said Mungantiwar.Non-timber forest produce (NTFP) is collected and processed by JFMC in non-scheduled areas, which generate revenue from their sale. Maharashtra has around 15,500 villages in and around forests. Since 1992, the state has initiated the JFMC programme “on a care-and-share basis.”The one obvious benefit of selling the products under a well-known brand is that it will boost the tribal and rural economy. The other is that it would strengthen forest conservation as it would reduce the dependence of those living on the peripheries of jungles on forests, said officials.Some of the other products which the department is keen to market include mohua jam, squash and various medicinal powders and churnas.The first ‘Jan Dhan, Van Dhan’ outlet was launched in Nagpur in August 2015. More are being planned in cities like Pune. The department has also established a facility at Gadchiroli to process these products.

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Maharashtra wants to sell forest produce, plans to rope in Ramdev