Mutually Aided Cooperative Thrift Societies (MACTS) run by tribal communities operating in the Agency areas are coming to the rescue of the tribal people and particularly the members of the MACTS who were contributing to the thrift fund, thanks to the efforts of several organizations including Vikasa working in the agency areas who are instrumental in the formation of the societies.

Private financiers from the urban areas were lending at 60 per cent to 150 per cent rate of interest. They are deducting interest amount in advance and recovering the lent amount on a monthly basis. Farmers are utilising the loans for agriculture, education, health and wedding expenditure of their family members. On an average something like Rs.25 lakh is in circulation in the Araku Valley and Dumbriguda mandals where the present societies are active. An estimated Rs.2.20 lakh is the loan requirement in any given village. Farmers were paying an interest of Rs.132 lakhs to Rs. 330 lakhs alone in the above mentioned two mandals.

Village Developmental Committees formed in the NABARD’s horticulture project areas operate ‘Tribal Development Fund’ for the express purpose of raising horticulture plantations. It is in these project areas these societies are formed and Rs.12 lakh accumulated by the community out of the TDF has been transferred to the societies. The fund is being revolved at 12 percent interest to address the credit needs of the members of the societies. About 75 per cent of the TDF fund has been transferred to the Vana Vikasa MACT Society in the two mandals.

The society has 2,400 members representing 120 villages. A thrift amount of Rs.22 lakh has been raised and Rs.10 lakh out of it was disbursed as loan to 130 members to meet their individual and professional needs. Vikasa MACTS in Chodavaram and Sagara Vikasa MACTS in Bheemili were being viewed as good models of community banking.

Vikasa chairman P. Vishwanatham told The Hindu that the tribal community which was until recently under the clutches of money lenders are now running thrift societies themselves and those having membership in the societies are able to come out of their debt trap. However, there are many who are outside the fold of MACTS who are indebtedness. More societies need to be formed to rescue them from debt crisis.

Mathsyaraju, a member of MACTS in the tribal area says that the society is addressing community and individual needs and sustaining them in crucial times. The society has helped his family to come out of debt trap. So was the case with Bonthi Boyanna of Dumbriguda.

He says that the society helped his family come out of the financial debt they had been entrenched in for years. The objectives of the societies include capacity building to members on institutional development, access to credit needs through self governed institutional arrangement and putting an end to exploitation of the rural poor by the money lenders.

  • The society has 2,400 members representing 120 villages

  • A thrift amount of Rs.22 lakh has been raised