A joint liability group (JLG) project for lease farming, initiated as an experimental project by the Kuttanad Vikasana Samithi (KVS), a farmers' organisation here, and which was recently taken over by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), is likely to be taken up on a larger scale across the country.

Central Finance Joint Secretary K.V. Eapen, who paid a visit to the KVS here earlier this week, reviewed the project and interacted with farmers before hinting that the project would be expanded across the country.

Mr. Eapen, who was accompanied by NABARD executive director Prakash Bakshi and Kerala chief general manager K.C. Shashidhar among others, said he had arrived to evaluate the project and the concept of JLGs directly so that it could be replicated on a much larger scale to help rural and agricultural development.

According to Thomas Peelianickal, KVS executive director, the project was started with the assistance of the State Bank of Travancore as an experiment in 2006 under the ‘Annapurna lease-farming loan assistance project' to help paddy farmers in Kuttanad.

JLGs of five paddy farmers each were formed, with each farmer standing guarantee to the other in the group and each farmer would get a maximum loan of Rs.60,000 (at the rate of Rs.12,000 for one acre and for a maximum of five acres), that too without any security.

The project, which started off for paddy farmers, was extended to vegetable farming, fish and aquaculture farmers and cattle farmers too, with the total number of JLGs reaching 295 at present.

NABARD was observing the project for the last few years, and in June, NABARD chairman Umesh Chandra Sarangi, along with 30 chief general managers of the bank from other States, visited the KVS to directly study the project.

Satisfied with the performance of the JLGs, NABARD had announced that it would impart training for office-bearers of the JLGs, dividing them into 10 batches, so that the project would acquire a formal shape and could be then introduced to other States as an example for the JLG concept, Fr. Peelianickal told The Hindu.

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