Staff Reporter

Special programmes promote SHG products at village panchayats

TIRUNELVELI: Here is good news for members of self-help groups, who have been sweating it out to market their products. The District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) has started organising awareness and special programmes to sell the products made by the SHGs in every village panchayat.

While the campaign stresses the quality of the products, the DRDA's slogan, `Be SHG-ian and buy SHG products,' has created waves in the rural areas.

Under the Swarnajayanthi Gram Swarozgar Yojana, a total of 123 SHGs in the district have obtained loans to the tune of Rs. 3.6 crore to start their business ventures. The SHG products, which lack advertisement and colourful packing, had to struggle while competing with other products in the market.

When the SHG members found the going tough, the DRDA started organising weekly markets in select areas and festival season exhibitions to display and sell the products. This failed to ensure significant revenue. The shopping complex near the New Bus Stand at Palayamkottai, which was constructed exclusively for SHG products, also could not become a crowd-puller.

However, the problems associated with marketing of products did not dampen the spirits of the DRDA and the SHG members.

After "lengthy discussions" with all people concerned, the DRDA decided to organise exhibition-cum-sale of the products in every village in the district with the new slogan. To start with, the programmes were being organised in the villages selected for `Anaiththu Grama Anna Marumalarchi Thittam,' sources said.

The response was overwhelming to the camps organised at Nallur and Thiruppanikarisalkulam recently. SHG members were keen on buying the products of other groups.

The DRDA has now planned to organise a minimum of 20 such camps before the end of this fiscal.