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Aajeevika making rural women self-reliant fast: Tomar

New Delhi: Union Minister of Rural Development, Panchayati Raj and Mines Shri Narendra Singh Tomar today inaugurated the SARAS Aajeevika Mela 2018 here and said that the Aajeevika mission is bringing huge socio-economic transformation in the lives of rural women. Welcoming all skilled artisans and SHG women from across the country to the SARAS Mela, he stated that Ministry of Rural Development is committed to supporting the rural poor, especially women members of Self Help Groups in improving their economic and social status.  Towards this end, the Ministry is implementing the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission which aims at making the rural women confident, aware and self-dependent.  The SARAS Aajeevika Mela is an attempt to provide direct marketing platform to the rural women producers so that they get proper prices for their products by eliminating middle men. He also informed that the Ministry promotes rural haats for providing a platform for SHG women and other producers in the rural areas to sell their produce.  The Ministry is planning to set up 22000 rural haats all over the country during the FY 2018-19.

On this occasion, Shri Tomar released two publications of DAY-NRLM programme (i) Self Help Group’s Directory, which is a list of SHGs participating in the SARAS Aajeevika Mela 2018 along with their products and their contact details; and (ii) Compendium of Enterprises of Rural Women, which is a collection of 32 success stories of individual and collective women led enterprises across the country.

Speaking on the occasion, Secretary Rural Development Shri Amarjeet Sinha said that out of 5 crore women associated with the scheme, about one and half crore have direct bank linkages. He also informed that the loan to Women Self-Help Groups have increased to Rs 63,000 crore from Rs 23,000 crore in 2014-15 and the NPA for this loan is mere 2.6 percent. Shri Sinha said that women from the hardcore naxal areas are coming forward to avail the benefits of the scheme and writing new stories of development like the e-rickshaw initiative of the Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh.

Later Hon’ble Minister and all the dignitaries visited the stalls and encouraged the rural women. A tour of the Mela was organized for the media persons wherein they got opportunity to interact with the women entrepreneurs and capture their stories. A press meet was organized with Hon’ble Minister along with all the dignitaries of the event.

Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM) is one of the flagship programmes of the Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India to alleviate rural poverty. The programme aims at mobilizing all rural poor women into self managed community institutions ( Self Help Groups, Village Organisations, Cluster Level Federations, Producer Groups/Companies), in a phased manner. The Mission also aims at promoting financial inclusion of the community institutions and provide support for strengthening and diversification of livelihoods resources of the women member households.

Since its launch in 2011, the Mission has expanded to 4456 Blocks of 584 Districts, across 29 States and 5 Union Territories. The Mission has thus far mobilized 4.7 crore member household 39.9 lakh Self Help Groups, which are in turn federated into  2.20 lakh Village Organizations and 19,000 Cluster Level Federations. As part of Financial Inclusion agenda, the Mission has enabled the Women SHGs to access a Bank Credit of Rs. 151,000 crores with an NPA of around 2.6% in the whole Women SHG portfolio.

Under a sub-scheme called Mahila Kisan Sahshaktikaran Pariyojana (MKSP), the Mission has been supporting about 33 lakh women farmers to enhance farm productivity and diversify their livelihood asset base. In addition, the Mission is promoting individual and collective enterprises of SHG women both under farm and non-farm sector.

The Ministry is also implementing sub-schemes under DAY-NRLM to support skill training and placement support under Deen Dayal Upadhyay -Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (DDU-GKY) and Rural Self Employment Training Institutes (RSETIs) scheme and for enterprise support under Start Up Village Entrepreneurship Programme (SVEP) and Aajeevika Grameen Express Yojana .

SHG members are producing various kinds of agricultural and non-agricultural/handicraft products but face problems in marketing their produce.  In order to promote marketing of the products of these SHG women, Ministry of Rural Development has been supporting organisation of exhibitions under the brand name of SARAS where Self Help Groups from different states participate to exhibit and sell their products. At present, two SARAS Fairs in State are sponsored by the Ministry in each state during a financial year by way of providing assistance upto Rs 40.00 lakh per fair in Metropolitan cities (Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata and Hyderabad) and upto Rs 35.00 lakhs per fair in non-Metropolitan cities.

In addition, the Ministry has been organizing SARAS fairs at Delhi as a part of India International Trade Fair (IITF) and also as Shishir Mela in Dilli Haat. Taking this forward, this Ministry had organized the Aajeevika Mela in April, 2017 at India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO). The Aajeevika Mela 2017 had over 500 stalls that showcased a number of traditional arts and craft items produced by rural poor SHG women.

 As part of the 2018 mela, about 350 stalls have been set up by SHG women from different states for exhibition cum sale of a wide verity of products. The products on exhibition range from handlooms, handicrafts, artefacts and heritage products, tribal ornaments, decorative items, metallic products, earthen utensils and paintings to organic food items, spices, processed foods, soft toys, utility items, brass and wrought iron products.

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