Promotion of Off Farm Sector was embedded in the very mission statement of NABARD at the time of its inception. The sector assumes significance in the context of the ever pressing need for reducing rural India’s over dependence on agriculture for income by encouraging alternate livelihood options. Development of this sector also helps in arresting large-scale migration of small and marginal farmers and agricultural labourers to urban areas in search of livelihood opportunities on account of unemployment/ disguised employment in the agriculture sector.
NABARD, over the years, has evolved several refinance and promotional schemes for development of Off Farm Sector and has been making constant efforts to broad base and refine/rationalise its schemes in response to needs at the field level.
The focus has been on programmes which enables increased 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 rural areas.
Developing markets for the rural Off Farm Sector has been an area where NABARD has taken many initiatives. NABARD has also been actively involved in promoting innovations in rural areas in farm and Off Farm sectors by creating a separate fund for this purpose.
Thrust areas of the Off Farm Development Department (OFDD) are indicated below:
- Off Farm Producer Organizations
- Skill Development Rural Innovations
- Marketing Intervention
- Agri Business Incubation Centres
- Rural Innovation
- Other Off Farm Activities
2. Core Functions of the Department
- Provide end-to-end solutions for promotion of activities generating/enhancing livelihoods under the Rural Off Farm Sector.
- Provide financial support as grant depending on the nature of the project, activities within the project, stakeholders involved, etc.
- Provide financial support to 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.
- Support marketing activities of rural artisans by extending grant assistance for Rural Haats, Rural Marts, Exhibitions and Melas.
- Promote skill development by extending grant support to rural training institutions like Rural Development and Self Employment Training Institutes (RUDSETIs)/ Rural Self Employment Training Institutes (RSETIs), NSDC affiliated Institutes, NGOs having training establishments, Government agencies, Corporate Partners, etc.
- Support rural artisans for formation of Off Farm Producer Organizations (OFPOs) in clusters to take up collective business activities, build capacity and develop market linkages.
- Support innovation in Off Farm Sector.
3. Broad achievements of the Department at a National Level
Rural Entrepreneurship/ Skill Development Programmes
NABARD supports Skill Development Programmes (SDPs) for facilitating generation of wage employment opportunities as well as self-employment for the rural youth. During 2018-19, 34178 youths have been skilled through NABARD interventions. To take forward the skill initiatives in a structured way for addressing the skill gap in rural India, NABARD has partnered with corporates under their CSR activity, NGOs/VAs, NSDC affiliated Training Institutes, Government Agencies in addition to RUDSETIs/ RSETIs. Cumulatively NABARD has supported 8.71 lakh youth under skill development.
OFDD launched the skill portal NABSKILL during 2017-18 for effective implementation, monitoring/tracking, placement and building candidate wise data for the skill initiative of the Department. From 01 April 2018 submission of application and settlement of claims are being done exclusively through the NABSKILL portal. NABARD partnered with corporates like Ambuja Cement Foundation (ACF), Ashok Leyland Institute for Driving, Training and Research (ALIDTR) and Dalmia Cement Foundation for developing various skill sets for rural youth.
NABARD has been implementing the Cluster Development Programme under the National Programme on Rural Industrialisation (NPRI) since 1999-2000. Building on that experience and considering the fact that cluster approach is best suited for the development of small and micro enterprises, NABARD evolved its own Cluster Development Policy in the year 2005-06. NABARD has cumulatively approved a total of 119 clusters in 110 districts across 22 States. Focus was given on development of clusters in north eastern region (NER) supporting development of 23 clusters in the NER and backward regions. Prominent clusters supported under the programme were:
- Handloom (57)
- Handicrafts (43)
- Food processing and Rural Tourism (7 each)
Off Farm Producer Organisation (OFPO)
In order to provide strong platform to rural artisans to take up collective business activities, including capacity building, business planning and providing marketing linkages, NABARD extended support for formation of Off Farm Producer Organisations (OFPOs) in existing clusters on a pilot basis in 2016-17.
As on 31 March 2019, NABARD has sanctioned 25 OFPOs amounting to ₹ 829.65 lakh in 16 states. These projects will benefit around 9000 artisans/weavers beneficiaries in a period of three years.
To support rural artisans in utilizing their expertise as a source of livelihood while also helping them to enhance their income, NABARD has been supporting marts and haats, exhibitions at State level and large fairs at National level.
a) Exhibitions and Melas
NABARD extended support to provide marketing platform to rural artisans and producers to exhibit their traditional art-crafts, and products through exhibitions and melas. NABARD’s support for exhibitions and melas has helped rural artisans and Self Help Groups in showcasing their products, enabling a wider reach and getting more orders, thereby enhancing their income and livelihood opportunities
NABARD supported Handloom OFPO, based at Baghpat, Uttar Pradesh has entered into a tie-up with Amazon.in to sell its products under the brand name Baghpat Fabs.
b) Rural Haats / Rural Marts
In order to support rural artisans to market their products effectively NABARD provides financial assistance for setting up Rural Haat and Rural Mart.
A Rural Haat is an open air market which is considered the nerve center of the economic activities of the rural life of the country. The project can be implemented by Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) or PACS/POs/NGOs. The financial assistance is given towards creating basic infrastructure. During the year 2018-19, 53 Rural Haats were sanctioned with a grant support of ₹ 540.39 lakh. Of the 53 Rural Haats, 13 were supported in Tribal areas in TDF project area. As on 31 March 2019, 516 Rural Haats were supported.
Rural mart provides a market link to rural people for their household produce besides generating income and employment at grassroot level. During the year 82 Rural Marts with grant assistance of ₹ 243 lakh were supported. As on 31 March 2019, 812 Rural Marts were supported.
Stand Up India Scheme
GoI has launched the ‘Stand Up India scheme’ on 5th April 2016 with an objective to facilitate bank loans between Rs.10 lakh and Rs.1 crore to at least one Scheduled Caste (SC) or Scheduled Tribe (ST) borrower and at least one woman borrower per bank branch for setting up greenfield enterprises. A corpus for credit guarantee for individual loans under the scheme and refinance through SIDBI has been approved. NABARD is a supporting agency of the scheme and the DDM offices of NABARD along with SIDBI offices have been designated as ‘Stand Up Connect Centres’ (SUCC).
The ‘standupmitra’ portal has been created by SIDBI to review and report progress by stakeholders.
NABARD has been coordinating with Regional Offices to review the progress of the scheme and organize pre & post sanction handholding events for the promotion of the scheme. As on March 2019, NABARD DDM’s have undertaken 1833 programmes in 507 districts.
Agri Business Incubation Centres
Agri business incubators nurture innovative early stage enterprises that have high growth potential to become agribusiness by adding value and linking to producers and markets. The significance of Agri-Business Incubation Centres in facilitating an ecosystem conducive for the growth of Agribusiness enterprises is recognized worldwide. Besides creating direct employment opportunities, it also helps in increasing agricultural productivity and entrepreneurship development by supporting startups and enterprises, which are attempting to commercialize innovations.
NABARD has supported the establishment of three Agri-Business Incubation Centres (ABICs) viz. Madurai Agri Business Incubation Forum (MABIF), Chaudhary Charan Sing Haryana Agricultural University (CCSHAU) and Agricultural & Food Engineering Department (AgFE), IIT Kharagpur.