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Empowering Assam's Farmers: The Xamahar Initiative

A state with varied agro climates, Assam is known for its huge agricultural potential. However, its vegetable consumption needs are majorly met from other states. This is largely due to poor productivity owing to lack of quality seeds, high cost of quality seeds, heavy incidences of pests and disease in addition to lack of irrigation facilities, high cost, and non-availability of agrochemicals. Adding to all this is inadequate access to financial services, a big factor that limits smallholder farmers in the region from growing and thriving.

To address these issues, the Assam Rural Infrastructure and Agricultural Services Society (ARIAS) has launched the Assam AgriFin Xamahar initiative. This innovative project aims to support and scale financial service innovations in agriculture value chains across Assam, hoping to benefit thousands of farmers and agro-entrepreneurs.

Xamahar, Rang De and credit access:

The primary objective of Xamahar is to improve access to financial services for farmers and enterprises involved in agriculture value-chains in Assam.

Xamahar aims to increase financial inclusion, promote economic growth and enhance the livelihoods of farmers and other stakeholders in the agricultural sector. The goal is to create business opportunities in the long term for the applicant organisations, leading to sustained improvements in financial services for them. Rang De is a partner in this innovative project funded by the World Bank and is working towards providing loans to farmers for their input requirements like quality seeds, agri-equipments and fertilisers in addition to access to storage and warehouse facilities.

Key Components of Xamahar:

Xamahar has identified four thematic areas where financial service innovations are needed to enhance access to finance in agriculture value chains:

1) Savings, including access to long-term savings and micro pensions.

2) Digitization of agriculture payments to facilitate efficient and secure transactions.

3) Credit and insurance services tailored to the needs of farmers and agro-entrepreneurs.

4) Financial services for farmer collectives, such as Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs), to enable aggregation and better market access.

The target beneficiaries of Xamahar include small and marginal farmers, landless agricultural labourers, tenant farmers, and farmer collectives such as FPOs. The initiative aims to directly benefit at least 125,000 producers over its lifespan, with a focus on ensuring that at least 30% of the beneficiaries are women. The subprojects will be implemented in one or more of the 23 priority districts of Assam identified under the APART project.

The potential of the potato value chain:

One specific focus area under Xamahar is the promotion of the potato value chain in Assam. The state holds huge potential for potato farming because of ideal soil and climate conditions, making it a great hotspot for growing this crop with lower costs. This has got the state government’s attention for its huge potential. Collaborating with organisations like the International Potato Center (CIP), Xamahar aims to enhance the potato value chain's efficiency and inclusivity. This involves improving access to finance for potato farmers, facilitating the adoption of modern agricultural practices, working on market linkages, and promoting value addition activities such as potato processing and storage.

To achieve these objectives, Xamahar will support innovative financial services tailored to the specific needs of potato farmers and related enterprises. These services may include access to affordable credit for farm inputs, insurance products designed for potato cultivation, digital payment solutions for efficient transactions, and financial assistance for setting up potato processing units.

Expected Impact:

The Assam AgriFin Xamahar initiative holds the potential to generate significant positive impacts on multiple levels. By improving access to financial services, it can empower smallholder farmers and agro-entrepreneurs to make informed decisions, adopt modern technologies, and increase productivity.

The promotion of inclusive financial systems can also help mitigate the risks associated with agriculture, such as crop failures and price volatility, through appropriate insurance and credit mechanisms. Additionally, the integration of digital payment solutions can enhance the efficiency and transparency of transactions in the agricultural value chains, benefiting all stakeholders involved.

Xamahar + Rang De : Project progress (as of June-end, 2023)

The on-ground activities of Rang De’s association with Xamahar commenced on November 14, 2022. In the first two quarters, Rang De and SV Agri have provided Rs. 48 lakhs of credit to 110 small and marginal farmers through 10 FPOs across 7 districts of Assam. The project has also facilitated the procurement of potatoes worth Rs. 50 lakhs.

Through this partnership and targeted interventions, Xamahar aims to empower Assam's farmers and catalyse sustainable growth in the agriculture sector, ultimately creating a positive impact on the lives of thousands of rural households. If you wish to invest and uplift the agricultural sector, improve livelihoods, and contribute to the overall economic development of the state of Assam head to

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