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Showing posts from February, 2013

A day in the life of a tribal village market (Haat)...!

I am quite sure most of you have seen or know of a village haat or bazaar. Ever wonder what exactly happens out there?

(In case if you are not aware of what a village haat is- as most interior villages of rural India do not have proper linkage to the market, many Indian villages – especially the ones that are well connected with small cities- host a business center, which is open only once a week in Government owned lands)

This particular haat is hosted in one of the developed villages of Bastar district of Chattisgarh, which is around 30 km away from a small town- Jagdalpur. Localities mentioned that 1000s of visitors  from around 40-50 interior villages within a radius of 40 km visit this haat every week to purchase or sell all types of goods ranging from daily needs items such as vegetables, salt, sugar, spices, rice to clothes, jewelry, toys etc. 

Do you know that each place is allotted to a particular enterprise?  A local boy told me to bring a stick and place it on any empty space…

Ingredients of an effective Project Plan

More often than not, despite the importance of this phase or aspect of a project, it tends to be taken lightly – the phase being the planning process while writing a research proposal. In this post, I shall attempt to tell you what exactly goes on or should happen when it comes to planning post acceptance of a proposal. Once the topic has been accepted by the donor agency, we need to begin the process of refining the topic and turning it into something that is focused enough to guide your study/project. It is important that you establish a research problem at the start of your project. It is one of the key tools you have to ensure that your project keeps going in the right direction. Every task you undertake should begin with you revisiting your research problem - “Will this help me address this problem?” or “Will this help me to address the research questions?”

A mother's plea to her Government

Farm Credit in Pakistan: Benefiting Farmer segments

While reading up on Agricultural Credit, came across this interesting paper on farm credit in Pakistan, our neighbour. What was interesting about this paper is that the provision of farm credit in rural Pakistan actually benefited the small farmers though large farmers were the largest recipients of the program. For the full paper, visit this page:
The service provider in this case is Agricultural Development Bank of Pakistan or ADBP. The paper throws light on the role played by an institution like ADBP in providing credit in the rural side. Though substantial, once one looks deeper into the disbursement of loans and loan recovery rates, a lot is left to be desired about the cost-effectiveness of the scheme.

History of Agricultural Credit in India - Timeline

Development of rural credit systems have always been a complicated affair and this is clear from India's history. Intermittent failure of monsoons, unscientific farming practices and rural indebtedness, seasonal need for credit and other risks has ensured that high interest rates remain a norm rather than an exception with respect to credit. This problem was also noticed by our colonial masters and to this date, providing a formal system of credit seems to be a challenge. What I have done here in this post is an attempt to develop a timeline based on an article I came across online. This will be the first among many posts that I intend to write on agricultural credit and I am open to feedback on the same.
1870 - British administration began to notice the problems in Indian agriculture 1904 - Cooperative Societies Act √†Cooperatives seen as premier institutions for disbursing agri-credit. 1912 - Continuous official attention √† provision of rural credit. New Act passed in 1912 √† gave …

MFIs: Creating Slaves to Microfinance or Becoming the Saviors?

Author: Surabhi Agrawal

With an even-fisted force in the air, he yells, “We are not a slave to your microfinance!” and storms off to the back of the house, leaving twenty-three clients, one collection officer, and two surveyors in a small room shyly looking at each other. The group leader, the wife of the angry gentlemen who believed we had invaded his house, stated that her husband was frustrated with the weekly meetings held by the Microfinance Institution (MFI). “He feels our work is disrupted weekly because we have to gather for the meeting.”
If we leave the story here, then this will become another example to be cataloged in the literature of how capitalist are imposing their microfinance, making clients ‘slaves’ in debt with various imposing conditions. But a different chord will be struck as you enter another household for a collection meeting and a woman begins to show case her new sewing machine along with a sample of household handicraft items she has made. “I learned how t…

Why do farmers need more loans?

Agriculture finance is the most crucial aspect for any farmer in a country where 60% of population depends on farming. India is also one of the largest producer of food grains and cash crops as well as the largest consumer of them.  But there are still so many underlying problems in this sector which directly affects the farmer’s ability to earn to his full potential. If we see there are different issues like seed procurement, water management, floods, loss of monsoon, low price for farming produce, high wages, unavailability of labor, transportation of food grains, conversion of land for industries and housing needs, farmers children not interested to take up farming, migration to urban areas, etc..  and problems like disputes between states which do not want to share water to its neighbors. Finance plays a vital role in each aspect, as with availability of finance alternative solutions could be found that would help the farmers not to take adverse decisions.
If we look at the situati…

Data Everywhere and Nowhere to Go

The current GIZ-NABARD-CMF study is being conducted in 4 states (Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Punjab, and West Bengal). The study explores general and policy-specific questions regarding agricultural financing in India. Broader research questions in the study look at the structure of crop-loans across regional rural banks (RRBs), co-operative banks, and commercial banks;the credit need of the farmer and the utilization of the crop loan; and the respective yields and net income in proportion to the credit Policy-specific research questions look at the central government’s 2008 debt relief policy (loan waivers to mostly small and marginal farmers) and the 2006 interest subvention policy, which reduced the farmer interest on a crop-loan from a market rate of ~9% to an effective rate of 4%; this was followed by a state subsidy policy that further reduced the interest rate to 0% for farmers borrowing from co-operative societies. Banks are subsidized by the state and central government to retain…

Agricultural Financing Theme Special - Feb to Mar 2013

If one were to look at the CMF Publications list, especially the factsheets, one would find a factsheet pertaining to the topic mentioned above. We at CMF will be focusing on this topic: Agricultural Financing exclusively over the next two months as a central theme. 
So what would be a good way to know about the history or background of agricultural financing or credit - I suggest reading this document by Rakesh Mohan at the RBI - "Agricultural Credit in India: Status, Issues and Future Agenda" Though not exactly a recent publication, it is interesting to note that the concept or origins of agricultural credit in India date back to colonial times and in fact proposals regarding a formal credit system in the rural scene of India were being submitted by Sir Malcolm Darling even before the RBI was founded. 
The apparent difficulties of the co-operative movement in India included the high risks that came along with agriculture, high interest rates that were the norm, over-dependen…

Lest We Forget

To my mind, the biggest challenge of social science research using survey data is reconciling the rigours of mathematical analysis with the gymnastics of developing intuitive inferences about the nature and dynamics of everyday social reality. Few things illustrate this conflict of interests better than the actual process of generating analytical data in the field.

Behind every row of information in datasets are narratives. Loans. Savings. Work. Consumption. Networks. During the last seven days. Last thirty days. Last twelve months. Behind these narratives, however, are other meta-narratives that cannot be captured in quantitative analysis. There’s been no rain, how can we practise agriculture? Why should we answer your questions, you’re not from the government. Why is this survey taking so long, I need to get going, it’s been two hours already! We don’t talk to anyone in the village. You’re walking around in heat just to talk to us? Let me offer you some lunch. Bewilderment. Resistanc…