Easy access to financial services and products is a key condition for achieving growth in any sector. It is true for the Agriculture sector as well which sustains more than half of our population as a source of livelihood. However, illiteracy and unawareness among farmers hinder their access to financial products and services. To address these issues the Assam Agribusiness and Rural Transformation Project (APART), launched the program on financial education and counselling in the month of April 2022. The objective of the program is to enhance the financial inclusion of the farm community along with encouraging responsible use of financial services and products by them. This in turn aims to increase the growth and resilience of the Agri-business of Assam.
As one of the first activities of the program, the financial education and counselling (FEC) team held discussions and workshops with farmers across 8 districts of Assam. The target groups for these discussions were the Farmer Producer Companies (FPCs) along with the Farmer Interest Groups (FIGs) who are APART beneficiaries.
The main objective of these discussions was to collect relevant data which would help the FEC team to create an ICT-based, self-paced, e-learning module on financial literacy for farmers. The discussions were held on the topics such as access of farmers to financial products and services in different blocks, participation of female farmers in the traditional banking system, usage of digital financial tools among farmers, their understanding of financial literacy and what kind of educational content do they need for better access to the financial products and services.
The activity was conducted in Kamrup (metro) and Kamrup, along with Marigaon, Cachar, Lakhimpur, Golaghat, Darrang and Rangia. Around two hundred and eight farmers were reached out in these districts. The final findings of the discussion and workshop were incorporated in the inception report for the FEC which was submitted in July.
It needs to be mentioned here that the FEC program will be conducted across 24 districts of Assam covered by Project APART. The project currently is implemented by the Assam Rural Infrastructure and Agricultural Services (ARIAS Society), Department of Agriculture under the Government of Assam and supported by World Bank.
A Financial education and counselling (FEC) team has been formed consisting of a consortium of four partners namely the New Delhi-based Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) along with the Fair Climate Fund (FCF), the Indian Institute of Banking Management (IIBM) and the Council for Social and digital development (CSDD). The program will educate, counsel and facilitate financial products and services to over two lakh fifty thousand farmers under the APART project.