Thrust Areas » Self Help Group
Self Help Group
Self Help Groups (SHGs) are the backbone of VFPCK. SHGs are groups of farmers with identified common
objectives, tasks, group identities and neighbourhood. It is a system where all members work together to address problems and utilize opportunities through participatory
action after co-operative decision making for the overall development of members. The Council is moulding the SHGs as the basic local institutional units for introducing
innovative interventions in horticulture. At present Council have nearly 9540 SHGs and about 1,89,902 farmers.
Features of VFPCK Self Help Groups
SHG is a basic platform for
- Voluntary group of 15-20 commercial fruit and vegetable cultivators.
- Formed based on neighbourhood principle.
- Function observing a set of mutually agreed norms.
- Have regular meetings, discussions and common decisions.
- Increased social interaction
- Collective bargaining
- Quality input sourcing
- Advanced production technology and production planning
- Micro finance.
- Development of farmer market.
- Problem solving.
- Total empowerment of farmers.
Unlike the traditional
system of agricultural extension, in VFPCK, the dissemination of information is
routed through Master Farmers. Three farmer leaders called Master Farmers (MFs)
are selected in each SHG and are trained for leading each group. They lead farmers
in the areas of production, credit and marketing. SHG membership enables farmers
access to credit, training and to technical advice from the Council staff, but
benefits have gone beyond production related aspects.
The extension approach of VFPCK is unique with features like office less extension,
frequent farm and home visits, and mass awareness programmes like campaigns
and demonstrations. The extension officers of VFPCK are regularly visiting the
farmers’ fields as per fixed schedule and give necessary technical advice
and other leadership support.
The Council has developed a unique group marketing concept which is production
center oriented and farmer participatory. A group of 7 to 15 neighbouring SHGs
will constitute a Field Centre (FC) wherein the SHG farmers bring their produce
to a common place for marketing. Traders are coming to the Field Centers and this
will increase the bargaining power of the farmers. To give additional support
for bargaining the VFPCK Market Information Centre (MIC)
make available the daily market
prices of banana and all other vegetables collected from different markets in
Kerala and even outside. VFPCK provides account books and platform weighing scale
to Field Centers initially. After evaluating the performance at different stages
FCs are elevated to Swasraya Karshaka Samithis (SKS)
and are provided with various other supports like additional platform weighing
scale, furniture, telephone, major expense reimbursement for a year, land and
building. Some of these markets have achieved an annual turnover of more than
The credit package of VFPCK
is unique and has given
due importance for easy access, sufficient and timely credit to farmers. This
innovative credit package was designed in such a manner so as to extend credit
support to leased land farmers too. A MoU was signed between VFPCK and 12 banks
in the state for disbursement of credit to farmers. The SHG assess the credit
worthiness and credit requirements of its members through a participatory credit
Participatory Technology Development
The Council is trying out the concept of Participatory
Technology Development (PTD)
, a novel methodology for technology development
and refinement with farmer participation. The experimental capacities of the farmers
are enhanced through this participatory approach and farmers learn to solve their
problems by themselves.