Chandigarh, February, 15 2007 -
Aiming to support innovative, risk-friendly, unconventional and pro-poor experiments in farm, non-farm and micro-credit areas with the possibility of promoting livelihood opportunities and employment in rural areas, the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has created an innovation fund.
''We have created this fund with a view to synergise pursuit of programmes for promoting rural non-farm sector and micro-finance. Though no specific corpus has been earmarked, we have enough funds for the new ideas. We want to support high risk innovation in rural areas,'' a senior NABARD official told TOI.
The bank has identified certain areas like dry land/rain-fed farming, rain water harvesting, biomass energy, crop residues and non-crop residues, distribution and use of water and energy, storage devices for agriculture and rural production, roads, sanitation, micro-finance, skill development and micro-enterprises, where this fund can be utilised. Any individual, cooperative, NGO, panchayati raj institution or university is eligible for help under the fund.
Detailing some features of the fund, officials said it has focus on rural poor having innovative ideas which could be replicated elsewhere. It also eyes new products/processes, patenting, technology extension and support activities. Among the potential beneficiaries of the fund could be rural artisans/ craftsmen, those wanting to take the drudgery out of their calling. Benefits would come to include improved access to the market, more jobs and a better work-environment.
Officials said due follow-up action research will be done on projects sanctioned under this fund to check their progress.
The bank has been facilitating formation and nurturing of farmers' clubs since 1982. With a view to make it sustainable and more vibrant, a comprehensive review of the programme was made and a few changes have been made with focus on ownership of the programme by the banks. The guidelines have been evolved which came into effect from April 1, 2005. The mission of the programme is development through credit, technology transfer, awareness and capacity building.