A Financial Education and Counselling (FEC) team has been formed consisting of a consortium of four partners namely DEF along with Fair Climate Fund (FCF), the Indian Institute of Banking Management (IIBM) and the Council for Social and Digital Development (CSDD). The program will educate, counsel and facilitate financial products and services to over 250,000 farmers under the Assam Agribusiness and Rural Transformation (APART) project.
Easy access to financial services and products is a key condition for achieving growth in any sector. It is true for the agriculture sector as well which sustains more than half of our population as a source of livelihood. However, illiteracy and lack of awareness amongst farmers hinder their access to financial products and services. To address these issues the APART project was launched on financial education and counselling in April 2022. The objective of the program is to enhance the financial inclusion of the farm community along with encouraging responsible use of financial services and products by them. This in turn aims to increase the growth and resilience of the Agri-business sector of Assam.
As one of the first activities of the program, the financial education and counselling (FEC) team held discussions and workshops with farmers across eight districts of Assam. The target groups for these discussions were the Farmer Producer Companies (FPCs) along with the Farmer Interest Groups (FIGs) who are APART beneficiaries.
The main objective of these discussions was to collect relevant data which would help the FEC team to create an ICT-based, self-paced, e-learning module on financial literacy for farmers. The discussions were held on the topics such as access of farmers to financial products and services in different blocks, participation of female farmers in the traditional banking system, usage of digital financial tools among farmers, their understanding of financial literacy and what kind of educational content they need for better access to the financial products and services.
The activity was conducted in Kamrup, along with Marigaon, Cachar, Lakhimpur, Golaghat, Darrang and Rangia. Around 280 farmers were reached out in these districts. The final findings of the discussion and workshop were incorporated in the inception report for the FEC which was submitted in July. The FEC program will be conducted across 24 districts of Assam.