Thrust Areas ¬Ľ 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
  • 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.

SHG is a basic platform for
  • 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.

  • Master 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.

  • Office-less extension
  • 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 farmersí fields as per fixed schedule and give necessary technical advice and other leadership support.

  • Group Marketing
    Group Marketing
  • 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 one crore.

  • Participatory Credit
  • 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 planning session.

  • 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.