Promotion of Rural Off-Farm Sector assumes significance in the context of the pressing need of reducing rural India’s over dependence on agriculture by providing alternate livelihood options and thereby curbing large-scale migration of small and marginal farmers and agricultural labourers to urban areas.
Over the previous nearly three decades, NABARD designed several refinance and promotional schemes for development of Rural Off-Farm Sector and has been making constant efforts to broad base and refine them in response to field level needs. The focus has been on greater credit flow, provision of credit to the unreached and provision of linkages for small, cottage and village industries, handloom, handicrafts and other rural crafts and service sector in the decentralised sector in the rural areas.
Building an entrepreneurial culture and necessary skills among the rural youth and women has been a priority area for NABARD along with developing markets for the rural off-farm sector. NABARD has also been actively involved in promoting innovations in rural areas in farm and off-farm sectors through a separate fund.
Policy on Rural Off-Farm Sector
As per extant policy, NABARD provides financial support for providing end to end solutions for promotion of activities which generate or enhance livelihoods under the Rural Off-Farm Sector. A project is expected to cover potential survey, capacity building, infrastructure, support services, marketing aspects, etc., for viable activities under Rural Off-Farm Sector. One or all activities could be covered for support, depending on the availability of multiple stakeholders as part of end-to-end solutions.
Financial support is provided as a grant, loan and grant or loan/Revolving Fund Assistance depending on the nature of the project and activities within the project, stakeholders, etc.
NGOs, SHG Federations, Farmers Club Federations, Producer Organisations, Cooperatives Government Agencies, Banks, NBFCs, Çompanies (including Section 25 companies) and such other agencies which are into livelihood promotion activities.
To enable the artisans not only to sell the products in marketing events, but to market their products and benefit directly from the market feedback for better value realization in future, financial assistance by way of grant is provided on selective basis.
Entrepreneurship and Skill Development
Rural Entrepreneurship Development Programme (REDP), Skill Development / Upgradation Initiatives (SDI) introduced on an experimental basis in the early nineties through NGOs and other institutions as a means to support capacity building of rural unemployed youth to enable them to set up their own enterprises, the programme proved to be a successful model for employment generation in rural areas. NABARD supported conduct of 30,341 REDPs/SDIs with a financial assistance of Rs.109.77 crore, imparting training to 7.83 lakh unemployed rural youth. This programme through NGOs is not in vogue any more.
RUDSETI / RUDSETI Type of Institutions / RSETIs
As an effort to institutionalise the Entrepreneurship and Skill Development initiatives, NABARD provides support to specialised institutions viz., RUDSETI/RUDSETI type of Institutions & RSETIs, which provide entrepreneurship development and training to rural youth/women on various skills, which can generate better livelihood options. Assistance is provided to these institutions, which comply with the criteria stipulated by NABARD, such as post training placement of above 80%.
Rural Innovation Fund (RIF)
Rural Innovation Fund (RIF) is a fund designed to support innovative, risk friendly, unconventional experiments in farm, off-farm and micro finance sectors that would have the potential to promote livelihood opportunities and employment in rural areas.
Support available under RIF can be in the form of loan / grant/ incubation fund support, or a mix of all the three components. The support is designed to be need based, cost effective and dependent on the requirement of the project, also taking into account some financial involvement by the proposer. This is decided on a case-to-case basis.
“On completion of the tenure of RIF on 30 September 2014, the fund ceased to exist. However, NABARD continues to support rural innovations”
Support to Rural Housing and Rural Sanitation
NABARD is extending financial assistance for rural housing to Co-operatives and State entities (State Housing Boards/Corporations etc.). Assistance for construction of toilets by SHG women and other individuals under rural sanitation is also extended through eligible institutions
Support to e-portals on pilot basis
NABARD has supported on a pilot basis, development of e-portals for marketing of rural artisans’ products through M/s. Zaak e-Ventures, New Delhi and M/s. eFresh Portal Pvt. Ltd., Hyderabad with the domain names of ‘shilpihaat.com’ and ‘ekraftsindia.com’ respectively. These portals were launched by Honorable Union Finance Minister on 16 January 2015.