Friday, November 29, 2013

Producer Groups - Theoretical Concept

"Where the poor participate as subjects and not as objects of the development process, it is possible to generate growth, human development and equity, not as mutually exclusive trade offs but as complementary elements in the same process." --- Meeting the challenge, Report of the Independent South Asian Commission on Poverty Alleviation, 1992.

The problem with modern outlook of business education is to view a rural/urban citizen as target consumers. Instead, if we enable them as producers, that will surely boost economy and well being of our producers. Most of the producers are caught in the vicious circle of poverty and even fully dependent on monsoon for good harvest. Government has reworked on its strategy of helping marginal and small producers in breaking out of the cycle of poverty by organizing them into producer group. Concept of Producer Group has been lifted from the cooperative societies. This concept is based on voluntary cooperation as rural ecosystem has limited resources and infrastructure.

Why Producer Group?The main aim of producer group is to stop the practice of ‘distress selling’ . I will give three reasons for pitching of Producer Groups. 1) Creditworthiness is directly related to income, farm size, age of farmers, and level of formal education of farmers. Hence, marginal farmer is always caught with lack of credit. 2) Marginal farmers as rural producers always suffer from imbalance of bargaining power in market transactions. 3) Small farmers always dispose off their produce at the nearest mandi at a through-away price. Size of the market for agri-related commodities is always good but highly price volatile in India. I have written more on this topic: Market Failure and Primary Producers.

A producer Group generally consists of 30 to 150 producers [depending upon nature of the Livelihood Activity] involved in a common activity. Producers group should be formed preferably at village level or at GP level for tribal areas where size of village is very small. Producers Group may be registered under the Self Help Cooperative Act, 2001 of Government of Odisha (Depending on state) or The Companies Act of India in future. As per new NRLM guidelines, minimum 50% of the total members should be from BPL category. That is a good strategy for poor and vulnerable households.

There will be service charges taken from the members for purchase and maintenance of common asset like Mattress, Chairs, Lock, Box and Weighing Machine. There will be engagement of professional resource person called as LSP (Livelihood Support Person). LSP will help them in procurement, processing, value addition and market linkages. However, the cost of LSP will be borne by government for initial two years depending on the honorarium decided by Producer group. There is provision of financial (Loan for working capital @7 % & Grant for capacity building through training) for producer group.

Generally, Indian farmers have highly unorganized and individual approach for cultivation. Organizing the unorganized through mobilizing whole community is the most time taking part of the formation of Producer Group. The first step with in business planning is to identify the business opportunity. This is decided by members Producer group itself only. Ensuring regular meetings and interaction from government official is a way to sustain producer group. With enhanced collective bargaining power, Producer groups are obtaining good price for their produce in the market. Still, there are many practical difficulties in the whole approach. That will be taken later in a new blog post.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Pointers for Rural Managers

There are 6 lakh villages across the country. It is essential to know about government schemes and local culture while working in rural India. They will always come handy in certain situations. Great debate on caste system has not been touched by me where majority of Indians follow an unwritten rule of not mingling through marriage of one religion or caste.

Hindi Calendar Months:

Important Festivals: I am not elaborating on Festivals in India that consumes a major part of government holidays. Just few minor ones, that may be unheard by most of us.

Akshya Tritiya - Day for worshiping traditional seed-before ploughing and sowing of seed.
Makar Sankranti / Onam- It is a harvest festival.
Vasant Panchami - This dayannounces arrival of spring.
Gudi Padwa/ Ugadi/ Bihu/ Vishu - New Year in Hindu Calendar
Navarathri - Celebrated five times a year but primarily once during spring.
Ramadan - A month of fasting for Muslims.

Important Schemes:

1- Poverty Alleviation Schemes : National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGA) and National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM)
2- Education Schemes : Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Mid Day Meal Scheme (MDA), Adult Literacy.
3- Water and Sanitation : National Rural Drinking Water Programme , Total Sanitation Campaign.
4- Health : National Rural Health Mission (NRHM)
5- Women and Child Development : Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS)
6- Rural Housing : Indira Awas Yojana (IAY)
7- Rural Roads : Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY)
8- Rural Electrification: Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY), Remote Village Electrification Programme (Non-conventional energy)
9- Hunger Reduction : Public Distribution Scheme (PDS) and Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) . (Upcoming Food Security Bill,)
10- Entitlements : National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAPS), National Maternity Benefit Scheme (NMBS) and National Family Benefit Scheme (NFBS).
11- Rural Infrastructure : Bharat Nirman Seva Kendras and Telecommunication Connectivity.

Quote of the Day: “My mother said I must always be intolerant of ignorance but understanding of illiteracy. That some people, unable to go to school, were more educated and more intelligent than college professors.” — Maya Angelou.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Transfer Order

The official stint at Balangir is over after 175 Days. I have been transferred to Ganjam district that will be effective from 18th November 2013. Life will be turbulent, may be good in coming weeks.

Since, Ganjam district has been badly affected by the PHAILIN and followed by flood due to incessant rain, it was decided to relocate eleven Young Professionals for the rehabilitation and restoration work. Transfer Order is little puzzlinh while looking at overall context of the decision. Currently, there are 36 Young Professionals employed at Odisha Livelihood Mission. There will be thirteen Young Professionals working at Ganjam district now with this official order. There are districts like Mayurbhanj, Kendrapada, Balasore and Bhadrak affected by cyclone and flash floods. No Young Professional is placed there for rehabilitation work. Hence, this skewed decision appears bias to me.

Change is constant but its hard to guess pace of the change. There is an expression that “failing to plan is planning to fail.” While it is partially true that those who fail to plan will eventually fail in achieving their goals, there is strong evidence to suggest that having a plan leads to greater effectiveness and efficiency. I am hoping for better and optimum utilization of time at new place. Dreaming to come up with self-correcting mechanisms against habit of procrastination. Self-image, hopes and dreams matter, not as part of vanity, but for the choices that I will make.

Thought of the Day: The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. - David Orr.


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This Blog is meant purely as a personal diary of a rural manager in making. It exists to record information, experiences and opinions about various issues encountered in the line of duty. Any person, institution and organization mentioned here doesn't assume any liability for its contents. This is not a deliberate attempt to defame anyone. And if you have actually read all that is written in the blog and aren't mad at me, then thanks for your time and patience !


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