Buoyed by the massive success of Self-Help Groups (SHG) for women, the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has now decided to run similar program for farmers of the country. The SHGs for farmers, which is a major step to curb farmers woes in parts of Maharashtra, would come up from the coming kharif season and initially will be at pilot level in all the states.
Adressing the SHG-award distribution ceremony on Friday, NABARD chairman Umesh Chandra Sarangi said that the country has 82 per cent small and marginal farmers who face problems of credit. "If these farmers have to improve their condition, they require credits, which can come from these SHGs. Initially there will be 3 to 4 SHGs of farmers in every states and depending upon the response, we will spread the programme".
Started first in 1991 with the initiatives of NABARD, the SHGs are for the alternative mechanism for providing hassle free banking service to poor people and reduce their dependence on money lenders. It is a unique and most effective micro-finance initiative in the country, now become synonymous with women empowerment and rural development program.
According to S K Goyal, principal secretary, Cooperation and Marketing, the SHGs for farmers will remove the middlemen systems. "Once farmers forms their SHGs, there will be no scope to middlemen. After coming together, the farmers will be able to produce and sell their crop on their own, without any external help".
The announcement about farmers SHGs comes as double delight for the state, which has won distinction by taking this program at new height in 2007-08 by registering more than one lakh new women SHGs. During the year, the state offered credit linkage to 100569 new SHGs through banking, covering 1.5 million poor families. There are total 326425 SHGs in the state which covers 4.89 million families.
"It is a matter of pride for Maharashtra, which beat Andhra Pradesh to top the chart by registering more than 1 lakh SHGs to become first in the country. I am glad that on the lines of western Maharashtra, the program is getting good response in areas of Vidarbha too", said Sarangi.
The better response to the SHG program has come after state has started offering loan to women SHGs at 4 per cent. At the award functions ceremony, many of the women SHGs described their experiences of how they started their own enterprise after they obtained credit from the banks.