The concept of Maa Thota, a farmers’ empowerment and village development programme which is being implemented nation-wide has more success stories in Andhra Pradesh, particularly in the Agency areas of Visakhapatnam district, according to Chief General Manager of National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development P. Mohanaiah.
Speaking to The Hindu during his visit here, he said of the 54,000 families benefited from the scheme, being implemented in 14 districts, 10,000 families are in the district. The target is to cover one lakh families in the State. Maa Thota, horticulture project of the bank, was basically a people’s initiative. The Village Development Committees (VDC), formed by the bank through the NGOs implementing the programme, played a key role in the integrated development of village. The VDCs provided a platform to farmers to work with other government agencies and see beyond Maa Thota for the overall development of their villages. The VDCs worked with Micro Agriculture Cooperative Societies for processing and marketing of the horticulture and other allied products of the village. Maa Thota, meaning ‘my garden’, has become popular with the farmers in view of the total involvement of the family members in growing horticulture crops on the land owned by them. The beneficiaries are having one or two acres.
In Visakhapatnam district 10 NGOs are instrumental in triggering a horticulture revolution on 10,000 acres and the highest volume of promotion of Maa Thota is in 2,200 acres by Vikasa and Kovel Foundation, who are having interventions in other areas including environment and medicinal plantations.
Mr. Mohanaiah said Remote and Interior areas Development Fund (RIDF) played a key role in the execution of 26,000 developmental projects, including small and medium irrigation projects. Replying to a question, he said the NABARD was ready to execute protected drinking water schemes for the tribal population in the district wherever there were hill streams and water resources. If such a proposal comes from the ITDA, the bank would take it up under the RIDF programme, he said.
One great contribution of NABARD was creation of self-help groups in the country in 1997. State governments later picked up the programme and began strengthening it. The bank is now geared up to reach out to women not covered under the programme so far in the Maoist-effected districts on a saturation basis and launch livelihood programmes for women.