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SAVE THE FARMER – A CSR INITIATIVE

Despite various government initiatives and attempts to save the farmers in recent years, in a span of 1month, 27 farmers have committed suicides in Tumukuru district of Karnataka alone. With a determination to save the farmers and address the issue differently, as a district incharge secretary, Dr Shalini Rajneesh, IAS, has embarked on an innovative and strategic way to put an end to suicide of farmers in a holistic and comprehensive manner. This program has come as a new ray of hope to farmers as it brings various stakeholders and state of the art technologies together to put an end to suicide of farmers. Some of the salient features of the program are highlighted below:

Data Driven Decision Making

Information regarding farmers has been gathered through various studies and surveys and the same has been analyzed to understand the patterns and root cause of the issues using statistical methods. Some of the Key findings of analysis shows that majority of them are less than 40 years of age, having tremendous debt burden. Though many are landholders, their income from agriculture is very poor. They suffer from nonavailability of water and are generally deprived of any government benefits. Out of 25 lakh total farmers in the district, about 734477 are having income less than 1 lakh per annum, 140096 having bank loan and about 30,000 have taken loans from non institutional sources and have over exhausted their limits for borrowing! They need urgent hand holding before they resort to the extreme step of Suicide!!

Mobile Technology for digital monitoring and management

During the course of CBO programme in Kunigal Taluk, it was realised that an essential component of such social initiative was effective digital monitoring and management. In order to address this issue, Davinta (technology partner for Save the Farmer program) has designed and developed comprehensive technology platform that will be deployed on field to manage the financial transactions, community, groups internal and external activities and the ground operations. The technology will ensure monitoring and reporting of the programme anywhere, anytime and at anyplace.

The mobile technology platform will help to perform the following activities on the field:

  1. Account Opening
  2. Basic Banking transactions such as Cash deposit, Withdrawal, fund Transfer, Balance Enquiry and ministatement.
  3. Create a complete citizen database of each Taluk
  4. Form cohesive Self Help Groups/ Joint Liability Groups of citizens
  5. Create and maintain group accounts and manage group meeting and operations
  6. Allows banks to monitor Member transactions and make an informed decision on the credit
  7. Generate credit rating for Groups and Individuals as per bank’s norms
  8. Generate Loan Requests, Loan Application Verification, Loan Sanction & Disbursements, Loan collection and Loan closure
  9. Generate both Financial and Statistical Reports per Member/Group

Financial Inclusion

While Mobile Technology helps operationalize the program and crowd funding platform helps financing the program, inbuilt MIS (Management Information System) will proactively manage the schedule and budget variance. The Bankers have been brought on board to ensure credit linkages.

CSR and Crowd Funding

While agriculture, revenue and rural development departments have been trying to help the affected families, nothing more than a compensation of Rs 2 lakhs could be extended by the Government. With an urgent need to address the issue in a holistic and comprehensive manner, the Honorable Law Minister and District incharge Minister has sought support from the Corporates and social organizations in finding both an immediate as well as a long term solution.

 

The mandate of Government of India, ministry of Corporate Affairs, to all Corporates to spend minimum of 2% on CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) comes as a fresh breeze of “life” for those struggling with agrarian distress. Creation of lively hood opportunities, skill development and women empowerment are the areas prescribed in CSR guidelines. We have used this guideline to raise funds for save the farmer program and also has collaborated with a crowd funding platform, to encourage entrepreneurship among farmers by enabling microfinance. www.micrograam.com is a lending platform that enables any Social investor to contribute towards a loan (of any size) to a person in rural India. The borrowers use the loans for a range of needs like employment training programs, agricultural inputs, livestock investments, and financing micro-enterprises. MicroGraam has disbursed loans of around INR 14 Crores To 11,000 villagers, 95% being women, with 99% repayment, as on date. The target is to reach INR 500 Crores By 2018.

Market Place

Save the Farmer program also plans to facilitate a fair and transparent online platform for marketing their produce in an open domestic and international market without the interference of commission agents. This will ensure that farmers get the highest achievable rates prevalent in the market for their produce and are not on the mercy of traders, middlemen or moneylenders.

Our objective is to make Agriculture a profitable Venture!

Strategically proven framework

Save the Farmer program is based on the past success of framework adopted by VFIDF venture in Tumakuru District. As part of that program, from April 2009 to March 2013, about 45,000 households were targeted, 80% of them being poor, while 10% were highly vulnerable. Some of the achievements of the programme as analysed in ISEC report were as follows:

  1. Households dependent on Money Lenders were reduced from 45% to 8%.
  2. Bank credit access to the group members have gone up by 100%
  3. 82% of total members acquired livelihhod assets.
  4. 90% of the group members got incremental income.
  5. 30% of extremely vulnerable households moved out of poverty.

Save The Farmer campaign is for three years and is extendable to a further term, if needed. CSR heads may contact info@savethefarmer.com or the author

Dr. Shalini Rajneesh, IAS

Principal Secretary, Backward Classes Welfare Department &

District Incharge Secretary, Tumakuru District

Government of Karnataka

Mob: +91-9448091606

Email: shalinirajneesh.sr@gmail.com, prsecy-bcw@karnataka.gov.in

Web: www.shalinirajneesh.org