Off Farm Sector
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 laborers to urban areas. Over the past 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 decentralized 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.
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 in the form of grant depending on the nature of the project and activities within the project, stakeholders, etc.
Eligible Institutions
Government agencies including Panchayat Raj Institutions, Apex/State Level Corporations and Boards, Individuals/Groups of individuals, SHGs, SHG Federations, Farmers’ Clubs (FCs), FC Federations, activity based JLGs, NGOs/MFIs, Trusts, Registered Community Based Organisations (CBO), Registered Producers’ Organisations/people’s organisations,
Co-operatives (including PACS), Banks, RRBs, NSDC affiliated training institutes, Skill Development Council, RUDSETIs/RSETIs, Corporates, Companies Proprietary/Partnership/Pvt. Limited/Public limited, etc.) including Section 8 Companies, NBFCs, Private Companies as part of Corporate Social Responsibility, Colleges, Research Institutions, Universities, Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs), Marketing Federations, Commodity Boards, subsidiaries of NABARD and such other organizations which approach NABARD for financial support for undertaking Off-Farm Sector promotional interventions and whose objectives/activities are catering to the development of Off-farm sector and approved by NABARD.  The list is indicative and not exhaustive.
Marketing Initiatives 
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.
  • Exhibition/Melas
NABARD supports and provides marketing platform to rural artisans and producers to exhibit their traditional art crafts, produce and products through exhibitions and melas which facilitate the artisans in not only utilizing their expertise as source of livelihood but also help them in enhancing their income.
  • Rural Haats/Rural Marts
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, NABARD extends financial assistance by way of grant for setting up of Rural Haats and Rural Marts.
  • Geographical Indications
Darjeeling Tea, Basmati Rice, Banarasi Sarees, Lucknow Chikan, Pashmina Shawls, Madhubani Paintings, Makrana Marbles, Madurai Malli, to name a few, are some well-known examples of Indian names, known for their geographical origin and origin-specific characteristics, qualities or reputation. 
Each of the above names is a registered Geographical Indication. Geographical Indication (GI) is a form of Intellectual Property that identifies goods originating from a specific geographical location and having distinct nature, quality and characteristics linked to that location. A GI right allows the holder to prevent its use by a third party whose product does not conform to the applicable standards.
GIs can play an important role in rural development through empowering communities, acting as product differentiators, supporting brand building, creating local employment, generating spin-off effects in tourism and gastronomy, preserving traditional knowledge, and conserving biodiversity, among others.
India enacted the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration & Protection) Act, 1999, that covers agricultural goods, manufactured and natural goods, textiles, handicrafts and foodstuffs. The GI Registry in Chennai is the nodal office for registration of GI.
NABARD added a new dimension to its interventions in rural development by supporting GI registration. Till date, NABARD has extended support for GI registration of 17 products, out of which 10 products have been registered.  NABARD also facilitated creation of an FPO for marketing of Mattu Gulla Brinjal (GI Product) resulting in increased turnover and direct selling to urban markets. 
To give a boost to these products on the export front, NABARD has provided financial support for the creation of dedicated product catalogue in three international languages for 10 GI products of Varanasi. The GI tagging has helped in generating interest and better price realisation to the artisans.
  • RUDSETI / RUDSETI Type of Institutions / RSETIs
As an effort to institutionalize 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.
NABARD had earlier 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.
In order to broad base the skill initiatives , in addition to RSETI/RUDSETI, new set of partner agencies (NSDC affiliated training institutes, Government agencies, Corporates under CSR, NGOs, Trusts and other voluntary agencies) have been included so as to cover the skill requirements of different segments of society. NABARD aims to train around 1 lakh rural people in 2 years viz. 2017-18 & 2018-19, out of which about 50% will be women.
NABARD is also in the process of digitizing the skill development initiatives to bring all the stakeholders in a single platform.
  • 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 and sanitation to the eligible institutions.
Additional Information