Cos to Help Draft Growth Plan for Rural Businesses
ITC, Fabindia to be part of govt panel to make policy to strengthen rural livelihood
New Delhi: Fabindia, a private chain of stores that sells products made from traditional techniques, skills and hand-based processes, and the ITC Group will help the government prepare a plan to support rural businesses and artisans.
They will be part of a committee formed by the rural development ministry under the National Rural Livelihood Mission to design a longterm policy to achieve this objective. “We want India’s rural population to get access to markets as equal players after removing disadvantages of remoteness and scattered population, which impacts their competitiveness,” said Amarjeet Sinha, rural development secretary. The committee will be headed by JK Mohapatra, former rural development secretary. The initiative is part of measures by the ministry to strengthen the rural livelihood programme with private sector help. ITC Group, which has linked up with farmers and built a procurement system, is India’s second-largest exporter of agri-products.
The ministry held talks with online grocery delivery platforms Grofers and Big Basket to source produce from rural groups. Bihar’s Jeevika initiative for rural livelihood has tied up with Amazon to sell handmade products, including jewellery and the famous Madhubani paintings. The government is encouraging other states to explore such plat- forms. The Centre will provide funds under NRLM to states for setting up Jeevika shops at district and block levels. The states have been asked to ensure availability of space and proper locations for these outlets. The government wants to use the initiative to ensure employment and livelihood opportunities for the poor in their own villages so they do not have to leave their homes in search of jobs and are not entirely dependent on farm-related work.
The committee will study the impact of macro-economic policy, changes in industry, market and technology and suggest modifica- tions in the implementation of NRLM. The mission has helped create a network of self-help groups with 3.5 crore women members. By 2019, the government wants to have 40 lakh such groups with 4 crore women members.
Rural credit in India raised by SHGs grew 40% to ₹ 30,000 crore in 2015-16 through their bank linkage programme. Formed in 2011, the SHGs have mobilised credit of about ₹ 70,000 crore, nearly half of which was raised in the previous financial year to fund the creation of social capital in villages that could lift non-farm jobs. The government expects demand to grow to .₹ 40,000 crore in the current financial year as skill development activities gain traction to facilitate economic activity on the ground.
The committee will be headed by JK Mohapatra, former rural development secretary