WASHINGTON, DC, April 26, 2018- The World Bank Board of Executive Directors today approved a $250 million National Rural Economic Transformation Project (NRETP) to help rural households shift to a new generation of economic initiatives by developing viable enterprises for farm and non-farm products.
A key focus of the project will be to promote women-owned and women-led farm and non-farm enterprises across value chains; enable them to build businesses that help them access finance, markets and networks; and generate employment.
The project is an additional financing to the $500 million National Rural Livelihoods Project (NRLP) which is currently being implemented across 13 states , 162 districts and 575 blocks. So far, the project has mobilized more than 8.8 million women from poor rural households into 750,000 self-help groups (SHGs). While these 13 states will continue to be supported under the new project approved today, 125 new districts will be added from within these states, which is expected to increase the reach of the project to another 5 million rural households.
Building on the strength of the SHG’s institutional base built over the last 3 years, the NERTP will continue to strengthen women-owned and women-led producer collectives diversify into high value farm and non-farm commodities such as commercial crops and livestock products, and fisheries. The project will improve the productivity of their crops; adopt climate smart technologies and practices; and access timely market information. Technical assistance, skills building and investment support, under the project, will enable such farmer-owned and farmer-led organizations make informed investment decisions.
“The National Rural Livelihoods Project has mobilized close to 9 million rural women into strong self-managed institutional platforms, helping them access services, participate in Gram Sabhas and start engaging in income generating activities. Many of these women are now geared towards moving into higher order economic initiatives in farm and non-farm sectors,” said Junaid Ahmad, World Bank Country Director in India. “The new project will bring more women into the SHG fold and help them engage purposefully in an evolving rural economy,” he added.
In partnerships with the private sector, technical service providers and state governments, the project will support investments that lead to higher value addition in agriculture such as skills and infrastructure for grading, sorting, food handling and hygiene, processing, storage and warehousing.
The other key components of the project include youth skills development, in coordination with the Deen Dayal Upadyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana; develop financial products and services to help small producer collectives engage with the market for example through digital financial services; and learn from similar and successful regional and international programs. Peer to peer learning across states and across communities was a successful strategy under the NRLP and will also continue to be used in this project.
“This project aspires to transform the economic participation of SHGs and rural women entrepreneurs by helping them engage on a strong footing with formal private financing, expand women owned and women managed enterprises and increase women’s labour force participation in viable agriculture and non-farm economic activities,” said Gayatri Acharya, Lead Rural Development Economist and World Bank’s Task Team Leader for the project. "The project draws on lessons learned from the rich experiences of livelihood projects from across the country which have generated 2.5 million emerging entrepreneurs,” added Vinay Vutukuru, co-Task Team Leader and Senior Agricultural Specialist.
Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu