A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Assam Rural Infrastructure and Agricultural Services (ARIAS Society), Department of Agriculture, Govt. Of Assam, and New Delhi based Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) to initiate a program on Financial Education and Counselling (FEC) under the Assam Agribusiness and Rural Transformation Project (APART), supported by the World Bank.
The Project Development Objective (PDO) of the APART project is to add value and improve the resilience of selected agriculture value chains, focusing on smallholder farmers and agro-entrepreneurs in targeted districts of the State of Assam. One of the key components of the APART project is financial education and counseling for the farmers (FEC).
MOU: The DEF along with its Consortium partners will work together
As per the MOU, the DEF along with its consortium partners including the Fair Climate Fund (FCF), the Indian Institute of Banking Management (IIBM), and the Council for Social and digital development (CSDD) will work together to implement this key component of the APART project, during 2022 to 2024 across 24 districts of Assam.
According to MoU, the FEC program will design and deliver Information Communication Technology (ICT) solutions and platforms to reach and impart financial education and counseling to 2,50,000 farmers across Assam and augment their inclusion in the available financial setup in the state.
It must be mentioned here that past studies have shown that the lack of access to financial information, products, and services among the farmers of Assam has hindered their better management capacity of the cash flows and getting other core benefits.
It also stops them from making productivity-enhancing investments or better-manage the business and non-business risks. Many reports have highlighted that there is an altogether lack of demand and uptake along with responsible use of financial services by the greater farming community in Assam.
The program aims to empower farmers digitally in the long run which will enhance their ability to tap the Fintech solutions available in the sector. The program will further not only facilitate access to but also encourage responsible use of financial products and services by the farmers.
The program will focus on the key value chains including agriculture & horticulture, livestock, fishery, silk-handloom & textiles, and dairy, represented through FIGs, FPCs, DSCs, FPOs, and others.
As the MoU project commenced this month, ARIAS Society also hosted a workshop on the 19th of April 2022 to provide a common platform to initiate communication between the core team of FEC and the members of ARIAS society leading various verticals of the APART Project.
The meeting was attended by members of the Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF), Fair Climate Fund (FCF), and Officials from ARIAS society. The main agenda of the meeting was to introduce the core team of FEC to the fundamental objectives of the Assam Agricultural and Rural transformation project (APART).