Sakh se Vikas (Development through micro-finance)

Despite being the largest state in India, Rajasthan lags behind on many development indicators. Hostile climate conditions, arid terrain, weak infrastructure and frequent droughts have all impeded efforts towards development. The Tata Trusts launched the Sakh se Vikas (SSV) programme in tribal areas of south Rajasthan to promote self-sustaining community-based microfinance initiatives to strengthen livelihoods and reduce the vulnerability of marginalised people.

Quality processes and community-based institutions are the heart of the Sakh Se Vikas initiative. The Trusts’ focus is on the promotion and nurturing of self-help groups (SHGs), clusters and federations which help rural communities to avail of financial support at reduced interest rates. Financial self-sustainability, strong governance and systems have been the defining features of community institutions promoted under the Sakh se Vikas initiative.

The Trusts’ recent focus was two-fold:

  • Implementation of the multi-thematic ‘Transformation Initiative’ in four tribal blocks of South Rajasthan (in partnership with the state government), aimed at enhancing the quality of life of 350,000 individuals (70,000 tribal households).
  • Provision of technical support to two flagship livelihood programmes of the state government to strengthen 59 self-help group (SHG) federations and enhance the incomes of nearly 82,000 SHG women and their families through the promotion of agriculture and allied livelihoods.

The Trusts’ Transformation Initiative adopts a holistic developmental approach that involves the integration of livelihoods, education, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), and health and nutrition interventions.

The microfinance initiatives under the Transformative Initiative have helped bring about financial empowerment for women in the region. This has significantly altered the social order which is evident in the increased involvement of women in the decision-making process of the family.

Cluster-based agriculture, horticulture and livestock (dairy and goat rearing) interventions are designed and implemented by the Centre for microFinance (CmF), an associate organisation of the Trusts, through the promotion of extension workers called community resource persons (called krishi sakhis and pashu sakhis). These interventions have resulted in significant and sustained changes in productivity and household incomes of SHG member households.

Key achievements

  • Benefitted over 82,000 SHG families through agriculture, dairy and goat-based livelihood interventions. 14 functional producer companies comprising agro-based producer companies, a goat producer company and milk societies were registered across 19 districts.
  • Increased yield of crops such as maize, pearl millet, wheat and mustard, by 30% to 70%, with the adoption of the improved package of practices. Vegetable cultivation, undertaken by over 8,000 households adopting the 400 square meters and 200 square meters models, along with the development of irrigation sources, resulted in additional income of Rs15,000 to Rs25,000 in one season and Rs40,000 to Rs50,000 over two seasons. About 13 tonnes of fruit pulp were processed and sold by women farmers benefiting 300 households through the Custard Apple Value Chain.
  • Partially overlapped agriculture clusters with goat-based and dairy clusters, ramping up annual income by Rs25,000-40,000 -- due to a reduction in diseases in livestock due to preventive care and treatment, improved animal rearing practices and marketing. Households are now able to earn anything between Rs60,000-Rs150,000 per annum.

Future plans

The Sakh se Vikas initiative aims to:

  • Strengthen all 59 federations across 19 districts
  • Reduce risk for farmers by promoting agri/nursery entrepreneurs in the area to extend quality planting materials, direct inputs and seeds to the farmers
  • Build capacities of agri-entrepreneurs and community cadres/professionals to extend technical support
  • Build capacities of farmers to take up open-field technology-based crop cultivation practices to generate income
  • Establish central nurseries to promote vegetable cultivation

Area of operation: Rajasthan

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