1.    Context
While India’s record of progress in agriculture over the past four decades has been quite impressive, Indian agriculture is beset with problems like failing or stagnating growth of factor productivity, raising input costs, fall in profits, emergence of climate risks, growing regional disparities, volatile prices, unfavourable trade making farming un-remunerative. This is further exacerbated by the marginalisation of farm holdings. Small and marginal holdings constitute 85% of the total land holdings and occupy 45% of the area in India. As per the 70th round of the National Sample Survey (NSS), in respect of farmers having less than one hectare of land, the net monthly income (farm and non- farm) was negative and the net investment in productive assets was meagre, indicating that small-scale farming is inefficient in India. These factors cumulatively contribute to farmer’s distress and are the reasons for a majority of farmers to discontinue farming. The intensifying gap in per capita income between the farm sector and other sectors are resulting in the youth opting out of the profession and hunting for other job opportunities.

Though Indian research has contributed substantially to the food production, a large agrarian population is still deprived of the benefits of promising research findings for poverty alleviation and income generation due to several reasons. There is a growing realisation that the business as usual approach will not solve the problems currently faced by farmers and warrants a paradigm shift in approach/process to surmount the existing problems.
The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has created the Farm Sector Promotion Fund to incubate innovations and diffusion of technologies in the realm of agriculture and allied sectors to benefit vulnerable geographies/sectors/ classes of farmers.  NABARD has been constantly endeavouring to enhance farmer’s incomes through multi-pronged strategies.
Against the above background, NABARD seeks proposals from the eligible entities for supporting innovations to add value to farmers in the sphere of agriculture and allied sectors.  
The details of the proposal are enumerated below:
2.    Objectives

The objectives of the fund is to support:

  • Sustainable innovations in the field of agriculture and allied activities,
  • Interventions for improving farm productivity and/or simplification in agricultural processes and practices,
  • Interventions that are innovative, experimental and demonstrative in nature leading to commercial viability,
  • Interventions that involve development of new products, prototypes/technology/patenting/extension support for technology, knowledge, information, marketing, etc.,
  • Agri-incubators  for incubating agripreneurs for adopting technologies developed by research institutes/ reputed management instututes and
  • Interventions to facilitate cross-learning and scope for large-scale replication/upscaling, benefiting the farming community at large
3.    Contours of Innovations

In simple terms, Innovation could be a new idea, a more effective device or process, a new business model or any combination thereof. Innovations include development of  strategic interventions, engagagements that use local knowledge, affordable products and services, acess to markets and finance and, most importantly, community ownership. The innovation must aim at increasing productivity of the rural poor, reducing drudgery, incresaing income levels, creating sustainable employment opportunities and be environmentally benign.

The  dimensions  of innovations include developing a new product, developing a new  process for an existing product, adapating/replicating an existing product/process in a new location, testing a new concept, developing a prototype for a tested concept, patenting for innovative technologies/ devices/products/processes and scaling up a concept which has been prototyped.

4.    Thematic Areas of Support

Proposals addressing the following  thematic areas encompassing any of the above objectives will be given preference:

  • Solutions to the problems of farmers‘ distress,
  • Addressing issues connected to rainfed, hilly and mountainous, dry land, tribal and coastal areas,
  • Use of information and communications technology (ICT) tools for capacity buiding of farmers and connecting them to markets,
  • Sustainably improving productivitity and profitability of farm incomes, enhancing  intervention measures,
  • Mainstreaming  of gender,
  • Strengthening  inclusive value chain,
  • Forging public-private partnerships and
  • Upscaling of innovations already tested in preceeding projects

5.    What is not eligible?

  • Routine and business as usual proposals,
  • Interventions already adopted by farmers in the project area,
  • Basic research  projects,
  • Long-gestation projects,
  • Routine skill development/training programmes and
  • Proposals which are not addressing  incomes of farmers

6.    Eligible Institutions

  • Research institutions, universities, Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs), reputed management institutes,
  • Non-government organisations (NGOs), registered community-based organisations (CBOs),
  • Reputed trusts/foundations established by corporates,
  • Private firms working in the field of agriculture and rural development,
  • Registered producers‘ organisations/people‘s organisations, including federations of farmers‘ clubs,
  • Individuals/groups of individuals sponsored by NGOs/farmers‘ clubs/other producer organisations of NABARD
  • Commercial Banks/regional rural banks (RRBs)/cooperative banks and their training establishments/rural self-employment training institutes (RSETIs) and
  • Corporate social responsibility (CSR) foundations/other entities established by corporates may join NABARD as co-founders.

7.    Duration of the Projects

Normally, projects/programmes having a maximum duration of three years would be considered for support under the Fund. However, in exceptional cases, subject to the genuineness of the requirement, the period may be extended by one or two years on merit.

8.    Eligible items of Expenditure

Items eligible for assistance broadly include cost of equipment administrative and recurring costs connected with the project/programme, including the core staff's salaries and other miscellaneous expenses, genuinely to be incurred under the project. Capital expenditure like purchase of buildings, vehicles, furniture, etc., will not be considered for support under the Fund. However, support for hiring premises, etc., wherever necessary, may be considered on a selective basis. The overhead costs, however, should not exceed  20% of the project cost.

9.    Quantum of Assistance

NABARD assistance will be limited to a maximum of 90% of the project outlay. However, the quantum of assistance and the project proponent’s contribution may vary from project to project depending on the project size, outlay, means of financing and resource support available from various agencies/sources, etc.

10.    Mode of Assistance

The assistance from the Fund will be in the form of grant  decided by NABARD on the merits of each case.

11.    Submission of Proposals

The eligible entities should submit the proposals as per the application format enclosed,  to the Regional Offices concerned.
If the applicant is
  • An organisation – Annexures 2 & 4
  • An individual innovator – Annexures 3 & 4
Anneuxres common to all proponents
  • Application Format for supporting innovations – Annexure 1
  • Activity Plan – Annexure 5
  • Log Frame (common to all participants) – Annexure 6
The proponent shall submit the application format in the website of NABARD. The proponent shall then submit the signed copy of the application format and related documents to the regional office concerned.
12.    Criteria for Selection

The proponents should have proven competence in the field for which assistance is sought and commitment to the cause. The registered entities should be registered under the relevant Acts, have minimum of three years audited balance sheets and profit and loss accounts and ‚have requisite staff, particularly technical staff, to implement  and monitor the project. The research institutions/ universities/other academic institutions should be reputed ones and are duly recognised by institutions such as the University Grants Commission (UGC), the All india Council for Technical Education (AICTE), the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), the Council of Scientific and industrial Research (CSIR), etc.,as the case may be.  In case of first-timers, DDMs shall obtain opinion of a government agency or a bank, from their locality.  

13.    Appraisal of the project

The proposals will be appraised based on the evaluation matrix, as per Annexure 7, and proposals will be dealt/sanctioned as per the rating norms.The projects will be sanctioned by the RO/ HO as per extant delegation of powers, [i.e. the proposals involving sanctioning  grant assistance upto `.10 lakh will be sanctioined by PSC of the RO and the proposals beyond the delegation of the RO, to be forwarded to the HO with due recommendation of PSC of the RO together with detailed scrunity/evaluation matrix and will be sanctioined by the HO, in accordance with delegated powers].
14.    Documenation, Monitoring and Submission of Progress Reports

The institutions/individuals will undertake to monitor the projects/programmes closely with a view to achieving and realising the objectives and goals and keep NABARD informed of the same through constitution of a Project Monitoring Committee (PMC), depending on the size and nature of project, by nominating NABARD representative on the same. The proponent shall submit the Implementation Schedule Review (as per Annexure 8) and self filled Montoring and Review form (as per Annexure 9)  to PMC  for review. The PMC will be conducted between the first and the fifth of a given month to review the progress of the previous month.

The agency is required to submit a project completion report within 30 days from the date of completion of the project, the data/infomation may be taken from the monthly reports submitted to PMC.
15.    Utilisation of Assistance

Eligible institutions/individuals availing of financial assistance would be required to give an undertaking for proper utilisation of assistance received from NABARD.  Where the assistance received from NABARD has not been utilised for the purpose for which it was released and no satisfactory explanation is forthcoming, NABARD will recall the entire amount of grant assistance at once, along with interest or any other penal charge, leviable on the same.

16.    NABARD’s Rights

The recipient shall not publish the reports/research findings/results without a written permission from NABARD. Further, NABARD shall have the right to use the same for its internal use for training, publicity, etc., after duly acknowledging the source/s.

Where the results of research for studies assisted by NABARD lead to obtaining of patent or to commercial exploitation in any form, NABARD shall have the right to demand a share in the gains made by the concerned institutions/ individuals. In no case, the proponent shall  have a right to sell the findings/products to a third party, without the prior approval of NABARD.
CSR foundations /entities promoted by corporates for meeting CSR obligation shall not use the outcomes/gains/commercial interests generated from the project for furthering their commercial interests.

NABARD shall have right to access the books of accounts of the institutions/ individuals to be provided with assistance under the Fund.

Eligible institutions/individuals would be required to submit a certificate/underaking/declaration set out in Annexure 10. Formats of Terms and Conditions of sanction, Agreement to be executed and MIS reports are given Annexures 11, 12 & 13 (Part A, B & C), respectively.