KARNATAKA

Farmers to form self-help groups

Staff Correspondent

They will help maximise agriculture potential in Davangere



Each RSG will be given seed capital of Rs. 10,000

Farmers will be helped to set up rice and

oil-extraction units



DAVANGERE: Inspired by the success of women self-help groups, which had saved over Rs. 1,000 crore, the Agriculture Department has decided to set up Raitha Shakti Groups (RSGs) in the State to enable farmers to come together to help themselves. It also aims at enabling farmers make small savings and has the unique idea of building entrepreneurship among them. A group of farmers would be encouraged to have their own rice mills and oil extraction units so that they get greater benefit for their produce than what is received currently. As a result, the consumer would also be benefited.

Empowerment

The other important aim of forming RSGs is to empower farmers socially and economically and promote group farming among themselves. According to highly placed official sources of the department, the size of each RSG would comprise between 10 and 20 members, as being part of a smaller group enables free communication between members and facilitates meaningful discussions on various aspects of agriculture. As a suitable incentive for the formation and the operation of farmers’ groups, each group will be given an initial working capital of Rs.10,000, subject to their contributing a matching sum towards the principal amount. The department also proposes to implement all subsidy-oriented programmes for farmers through the RSGs.

According to a survey conducted by the department, there are 75.81 lakh farm holdings in the State of which 56.69 lakh belong to small and marginal farmers. By grouping them into RSGs, as many as 2.85 lakh groups would be created. If Rs. 10,000 is provided to each group as seed money, the budget required would be Rs. 285 crore. To make RSG groups operational, Rs. 57 crore would be required every year. All 56.69 lakh farm holdings could be brought under the purview of Raitha Shakthi Groups in the next five years. The Government is said to have set aside a certain sum of money to begin organisation of farmers this year.

Workshops

The Government has instructed the department at the district-level to conduct workshops and motivate farmers to form RSGs in their areas. Innovative and progressive farmers would be involved in their formation in all villages.

The department has been asked to organise exhibitions, e-media sessions, putting up of posters and distribution of leaflets at the village level to educate them.

As far as possible, the membership of an RSG would comprise farmers whose interests are common. Maintenance of books of accounts and records such as minutes books and attendance registers will b essential. The RSGs may discuss and finalise a set of bylaws indicating rules and regulations governing their functioning and also roles and responsibilities of members. All contributions by members would be kept in a special corpus in a nationalised bank. The department, after a few years of establishment of RSGs, proposes to help farmers set up small rice or oil extraction mills for themselves. This would result in farmers getting more money for their produce.

For example, if a paddy farmer incurs expenditure of Rs. 14 a kg and sells his produce at Rs. 16 a kg, the rice mill owner would charge Rs. 4 for polishing each kg, while the final consumer will pay Rs. 24 for a kg of rice.

The idea behind helping farmers set up rice mills is to help save polishing costs, resulting in cheaper prices of final produce.

Similarly, the department wants farmers to have glucose and starch manufacturing units as they grow maize abundantly in the region.