Adopting a ‘whole village approach’

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Radha Devi, of Malmatha village in Dungarpur district in Rajasthan is a busy woman. She weighs two kilos of rice for a customer, gives a packet of salt to another and hands a toffee to a small girl who has come to buy a matchbox. Once the transactions are completed does she find time to recount her transformation from a simple village woman to a shopkeeper. “My life changed after I became a member of the Mahila Bachat and Sakh Samuha, I was able to take a loan of 30,000 rupees from the bank out of which I spent 10,000 rupees to build my shop and the rest in buying the goods. I have already repaid the loan from the profits earned.” Radha Devi has since then taken a fresh loan of 15,000 rupees which was used in growing fodder. This, she says, gives her an additional income of up to 3,000 rupees per month.

Radha Devi’s story is one among many such success stories fostered by the Bank of Baroda’s rural development initiatives. These initiatives are a part of the Bank’s mandate of financial inclusion for extending banking services to rural population through its ‘whole village approach’. This, though is not a new initiative for the Bank, since the passion for agriculture and rural development is ingrained in the Bank’s philosophy since its inception in 1908. To give rural India access to finance and to enable economic independence, the Bank has introduced a slew of services that extend credit facilities to small and marginal farmers, agricultural labourers and cottage industry entrepreneurs. Villages in Dungarpur district were among the first of 500 villages to benefit from the Bank’s financial inclusion and total integrated village development programme. 

In the past too, the Bank has taken a number of initiatives such as opening of specialised outlets of Gram Vikas Kendras (GVKs) and Multi Service Agencies (MSAs). The Baroda Swarojgar Vikas Sansthan (BSVS) was another initiative for capacity building and provided appropriate training for skill upgradation to unemployed youth and women for employment.

The Baroda Kisan Credit Card (BKCC) is yet another facility offered by the Bank to empower the farmer. The credit card designed exclusively for the benefit of the farmers aims to provide them the opportunity to manage and utilise their funds in the manner they deem fit. The Kisan Credit Card provides adequate and timely support to farmers for their production needs, which include among others, purchase of quality inputs, investment requirements like purchase of agriculture implements/tractor etc, farming expenses towards farm maintenance, unforeseen family expenses and maintenance of non-farm activities. “I have taken a loan of 10,000 rupees from the Bank with the help of Kisan Credit Card” says Lamilal from Ghumanpura village, “and I have used that money into spice and vegetable cultivation. If Bank did not help me I would have had to go to moneylender who would have charged me a hefty interest rate.” 

As part of the Bank’s commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility in its centenary year, it has launched the Baroda Grameen Paramarsh Kendra (BGPK) – a centre for knowledge sharing, problem solving and credit counselling for the rural communities. The BGPK is an effort to narrow the “knowledge gap” in financial literacy, better farming practices and technology adoption. It offers rural communities a diversity of opportunities including market-linked prices, value addition services offered by various institutions, women empowerment and employment opportunities for rural youth.
The BGPK centre helps in spreading financial awareness among rural masses through village level meetings and helps them to choose suitable banking products. As part of information sharing and problem solving process, it holds interface sessions with the specialists from institutions like agriculture universities, Kisan Vikas Kendras and NGOs working in the rural development sector. The centre also provides extension services to the farmers by encouraging their participation in Grameen melas, and organising television and radio talks. Each of the BGVK centre also maintains a small library containing books, journals and audio-visual aids. Information on the prices of agriculture commodities in various mandis across the country is also provided, enabling the farmers to sell their products at the best prices. The farmers are also provided credit counselling on repayment pattern and rescheduling of loans and fresh credit during situations of rural distress. 

Says Shamshad Qureishi of the Self Help Group (SHG) from Madaarfuliye, “we have been given training at Grameen Paramarsh Kendra. They have taught us how to set up our own business and how to run it profitably so that we become economically independent.” 

Another important initiative is the Baroda Kisan Group Loan – a joint liability scheme – for purchase of heavy agricultural machinery like tractors, power-tillers, etc. either by farmers having larger holdings with irrigation facilities or group of farmers with irrigation facilities. The Bank also provides credit for purchase of second hand tractors to farmers interested in dry-land farming or having a small land holding. Production credit is also provided for raising various crops from the point of preparatory tillage till harvesting, for landowners or permanent tenants or leaseholders or sharecroppers. It encourages the development of irrigation facilities; this covers sinking of wells/bore wells, lifting of water by installation of pump sets, transporting of water through field channels, water saving systems like drip irrigation/sprinkler irrigation etc. for farmers. It also extends working capital to dealers/ distributors/traders of agricultural inputs like seeds, fertilisers, livestock inputs like cattle feed, medicine etc. and supply of agriculture machinery/ irrigation systems.
Employment is provided to the unemployed technical personnel through the Agro Service Centre. The Bank also facilitates the setting up of agri-clinics and agribusiness centres by agriculture graduates. To address the needs of rural infrastructure the Bank provides credit for the construction of farm building/structures like cattle sheds, thrashing yards, fencing etc. to the individual farmer or firms engaged in agricultural activity and is of long term nature. Credit is also provided for construction/expansion/ modernisation/renovation of rural godowns and cold storages.

Other services provided by the Bank include, development of horticulture including production, processing and marketing of various fruit, vegetables, plantations and flowers, from the nursery to the point of market, by individual farmers, firms, organisations like co-operative societies. A number of allied activities, like dairy, poultry, fisheries, sericulture, mushrooms and apiculture are also encouraged by the Bank. To ensure financial inclusion for the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes who have been provided/allotted land by the State government, the Bank finances their purchase of farm implements,

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