Krishi - Development of women
June 27th, 1999: Mr. Vikram Akula, Director of Swayam
Krishi Sangam called on rural poor women to draw on their
inherent strenghts and foster economic development and a positive
change in their living conditions. Speaking to the women members
of Swayam Krishi Sangam on the occasion of a meeting organized
in Anthwar village to commemorate the completion of one year
of rural development work in the Narayankhed region, he explained
that the organization is striving to empower the poorest of
poor women in the area with support from non-resident Indians.
After using Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) methodologies
to understand local conditions, Swayam Krishi Sangam staff
then organize poor women in the village into core groups of
five members each, where eight such groups constitute a Sangam
[banking cooperative] in a village. The purpose of the Sangam
is the economic development of the members through income
generation loans. The women are encouraged to save five rupees
per week, and two women from the group are eligible for a
loan of two thousand rupees at the end of four weeks, followed
by two more women at the end of eight weeks and the last member
at the end of another eight weeks. The loan is repaid with
an interest of 20% by the end of one year by the member.
Narayankhed being one of the most backward and poverty-ridden
regions of Andhra Pradesh, the organization had decided to
work in the area since June 1998. 253 women members belonging
to 51 self help groups in 14 villages of Manoor and Narayankhed
mandals have so far received 366,500 rupees of loans, with
the support of which the women have taken up various income
generation activities to improve their livelihoods, Mr. Akula
The organization is also trying to look at the health needs
of the rural poor, Mr. Akula said. Out of the loans disbursed
so far, nearly one hundred thousand rupees has already been
repaid by the women, with interest. He urged more women to
come forward to take advantage of the services of the organization.
The coordinator, Ms. Rama Laxmi, noted that the impressive
repayment rates prove that the poor women are credit-worthy.
Durgamma, leader of Raipally Sangam [cooperative] remarked
that with the support of Swayam Krishi Sangam, the lives of
poor women are changing for the better. Earlier, these women
had to depend on village moneylenders for their credit needs.
Anjamma from the same Sangam said that she took a "pregnancy
loan" that she used to purchase nutritious food during the
time of her pregnancy. As a result, she had given birth to
a healthy baby boy. Other Board Directors of the organization-Mr.
Chandra Prabhakar, Ms. Namrata and Ms. Kavita-also participated
in the meeting.