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The council aims to attain the objectives through the principle of
Help, Participation and Prosperity”.
Major innovative concepts developed and implemented by VFPCK are as follows
Self Help Groups
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 5800
SHGs and about 111000 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.
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 one crore.
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 11 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.