Special Correspondent

Focus should be on the rural poor and must be innovative, experimental and demonstrative

NAGAPATTINAM: The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has set up a Rural Innovations Fund (RIF) designed to support innovative, risk free, unconventional experiments in farm, non-farm and micro-finance sectors. This would have the potential to promote livelihood opportunities and employment in rural areas.

Explaining the principles for operation of the fund, NABARD Assistant General Manager K. Venugopal, told The Hindu on Sunday that the focus should be on the rural poor and must be innovative, experimental and demonstrative leading to replicability and commercial viability. The activities funded may involve development of new products, processes, prototypes, technology, patenting and extension support, he said.

Innovations which aim at increasing productivity and profitability of operations of the farmers, rural artisans and craftsmen and those which aim to reduce drudgery, improved access to markets, create more employment opportunities and better environment will be eligible for support from the fund.

Eligible institutions

Individuals, non-governmental organizations, community-based organisations, cooperatives, self-help groups, farmers clubs, panchayati raj institutions, universities, research institutions, micro-finance institutions, not-for-profit companies, small and medium enterprises and other institutions which have the expertise to improve the quality of life in rural areas are eligible under the fund.

He said support would be extended in the form of loan or grant or incubation fund support or a mix of all the three components.

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