8 Feb 2014

“One Club in One Village” – A Unique Movement in Agriculture

Not long back, village authorities in the Madurai West block had taken the quite unprecedented step of handing over the management of the Women’s Health Centre (Magalir Sugadhara Valagam) to the members of the nearbyRajakkur Farmer’s Club! The Farmer’s Club, based in Lakshmipuran in Melurblock of Madurai district has been instrumental in initiating a practice of distributing books every year to poor students of the local school. Again, farmers of the Vaigai Vivasayigal Sangam in the district are eager participants in agriculture related training programmes conducted in various parts of the state.

               All these are the offshoots of a small movement launched in the Indian villages by the National Bank for agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD). The Farmers Club is a concept supported by the NABARD. Its motto is the formation of “One farmers club in One Village". Farmers, preferably progressive farmers, are mobilized under the banner of farmers clubs. NABARD supports these clubs for a period of 3 years with grant assistance for exposure visits, training through experts, encouraging progressive farming methods etc.

            At present, over 170 Farmers Clubs are functioning successfully in various villages spread across Madurai district. The most successful examples of farmer’s clubs are those formed by the jasmine growers of Uthappanaickanur. They have been brought under 30 clubs by NABARD, in partnership with Indian Bank. As a subsequent step, these clubs have also been federated into theUthappanaickanur Flower Grower Federation. These jasmine growers are looking for support from the district administration to run their own market inUthappanaickanur for which a piece of land has been approved ‘in principle’.

                         NABARD have since accorded approval for formation of such Farmers Clubs by Primary Agriculture Co-op Credit Societies (PACS) in the co-operative sector in Alanganallur block of Madurai district. The inauguration and orientation programme for the Paraipatty Farmers Club & Devaseri Farmers Club under Kodangipatti PACS & MuduvarpattiPACS was conducted in Alanganallur block recently

                              Shri R Sankar Narayan, AGM, NABARD is of the opinion that farmers need to understand perfectly the nuances of the value chain. This alone can lead to a ‘win win’ situation, enabling individual farmers also to use Farmers Clubs as ‘change agents’. In all such endeavors, farmers can always use the forum of farmers clubs to gain inputs on latest technology, seek the help of the experts and eventually become masters of their own profession.
                 He further explained that NABARD, under its Farmers Technology Transfer Fund (FTTF) will be happy to bear the entire cost of such initiatives such as training programmes, exposure visits and development of demo plots.Shri Narayan indicated that in the coming months, serious efforts will be launched to promote High Density Plantations in Mango and Guava in association with the Horticulture Department using the latest technologies such as drip irrigation, polythene mulching etc.

                 Under its programme, NABARD supports these Farmers clubs for a period of 3 years with grant assistance for exposure visits, training through experts, encouraging progressive farming methods etc. For this purpose, NABARD allocates Rs. 10,000 per Farmers Club annually for 3 years. To continue their functioning after the period of 3 years, these farmers clubs are encouraged to start their own small savings which could be used for day to day expenses and on-lending among themselves in times of need.

                 Other benefits of coming under the ‘Farmers Club Programme’ are Annual Maintenenace Grant for the day to day expenses for 3 years, nomination to CAT training programmes across Tamil Nadu (a number of farmers club members have been nominated to attend training programmes in Pudukottai, Coimbatore, Trichy and Kanchipuram), SMS alerts in vernacular through Reuters Market Light Ltd,  support to conduct expert meets on various topics such as vermi-compost, water management, SRI, Precision farming, Vegetable farming, Dairying, and Organic farming, sponsoring exposure visits to other districts etc.

                  On their part, farmers and farmers clubs should ensure that they hold meetings and pool savings every month, use these savings for internal lending,  spread the message of repayment ethics, source inputs for all for economies of scale, look for value addition to their produce and eventually aim at having their own ‘Producer Company’.

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