Livelihood generation in rural Assam

Livelihood generation in rural Assam ... visited the project’s head office in Barpeta district of Assam and a production unit based out ... Human Deve...

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Livelihood generation in rural Assam DOCUMENTATION OF BEST PRACTICE

December 2011

Researched and Documented by:

OneWorld Foundation India

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Executive Summary ............................................................................................................................................ 3 Methodology ....................................................................................................................................................... 4 Background .......................................................................................................................................................... 4 Objective .............................................................................................................................................................. 7 Programme Design ............................................................................................................................................. 7 Key Stakeholders ............................................................................................................................................. 7 Process Flow..................................................................................................................................................... 8 Financial Resources ....................................................................................................................................... 11 Achievements .................................................................................................................................................... 11 Challenges in Implementation ....................................................................................................................... 13 Conclusion ......................................................................................................................................................... 14 References .......................................................................................................................................................... 14 Appendix A – Interview Questionnaire ....................................................................................................... 15

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EXECUTIVE S UMMARY In the northeastern state of Assam, agriculture is the prime sector in its economy which provides employment to 69 per cent of its total work force.

However, the Planning

Commission observes that poverty in Assam is predominantly a rural phenomenon, stemming principally from underperformance of the agriculture sector and lack of alternative employment avenues mainly in the rural areas. The government has been implementing various policies and schemes for improving livelihood and employment scenario in the region. The Planning Commission in the Eleven Five Year Plan suggested a long term planning for all round infrastructure development and enhancement of productivity and scope of employment in primary sector including agro based industry sector. The government of Assam is also implementing various schemes such as Kalpataru Scheme, Assam Bikas Yojana, Mukhya Mantris Karmajyoti Scheme, and Policy of Joint Forest Management and others for accelerating self employment options in the state. In spite of these concentrated efforts of the government, there is a sincere requirement of innovative social enterprises in the state to engage the unemployed youth in productive avenues. It is in this context, Dhriiti-The Courage Within, a national level non government organisation, came up with the vision of setting up micro enterprises for the youth of rural Assam. Dhriiti identified the prospect of developing an Arecanut1 Leaf Plate Manufacturing Industry that uses locally abundant arecanut tree sheaths by deploying low cost technology in a rural set up. Dhriiti’s vision is to make Arecanut Leaf Plate Manufacturing Project an industry worth INR 100 crore for rural north east India by 2015 through promotion of more than 1000 small production units. In the year 2005, Dhriiti started the initiative by setting up small manufacturing units in the Borpeta district of Assam. One micro unit consists of 2 Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) based heat-press machines, 3 replaceable dies2 of different sizes, and one gas based dryer. Store rooms are constructed for the purpose of stocking up raw materials and finished products. There is also a requirement for water tanks in order to clean up the sheaths prior to initiating the production process. Apart from providing technical assistance, Dhriiti also pledged to ensure linkage with banks and other monetary institutions for financing the units. Dhriiti also promotes Tamul Plates Marketing Private Limited (TPMPL) jointly with entrepreneurs to ensure a stable and accessible market. TPMPL provides 100 per cent buy back guarantee to the producers of arecanut leaf plates; it purchases the products from individual producers on a weekly basis at a fair trade price jointly decided by the company and producers. TPMPL has been promoting the product in national as well as international markets.

1

Arecanut is the seed of the areca palm, which is also known as betel nut as it is often chewed wrapped in betel

leaves. 2

A die is a specialised tool used in manufacturing industries to cut or shape material using a press.

3

Development of a suitable technology has been one of the biggest achievements of Arecanut Leaf Plate Manufacturing Project. The technology developed for and employed in the project has negated the issues of production challenges that occurred due to humid weather conditions, and low quality and fungus prone products. A major attraction of this initiative is the innovative and environment friendly product, which is also available in multiple sizes and in smart designs. In order to expand the scope of the project and to ensure smooth operation of the units, the project invested extensively in training and workshops for the entrepreneurs. The most distinguished achievement of the project lies in its ability to develop entrepreneurial spirit among the rural unemployed youth, by providing them a dignified livelihood generation activity. It is providing a subsidiary occupation along with farming, ensuring year long employment for the rural population since agriculture is a seasonal activity in the state. METHODOLOGY The Governance Knowledge Centre decided to document the Arecanut Leaf Plate Manufacturing Project as a best practice because this livelihood generation initiative has the potential of transforming Assam’s rural economy by utilising easily available raw material, low cost technology and avenues for easy financial linkages. The team used both primary and secondary research methods for the preparation of this best practice document. Conducting desk based secondary research that mainly comprised of project reports and case studies from the Dhriiti website, the team gathered important information on the background, operations and objectives of the initiative. In order to validate the secondary research findings and to know more about the working design and achievements, the team visited the project’s head office in Barpeta district of Assam and a production unit based out of Baska district of Bodoland. Insights obtained through semi-structured interviews with TPMPL owners and local producers are used in the preparation of this documentation. As the OneWorld research team interviewed the key implementers and one rural entrepreneur, and obtained first hand account of the project design, process flow, challenges and impacts on the people, the prospects of information bias is believed to be minimal. BACKGROUND In the state of Assam, agriculture is the primary sector that plays the most crucial role in its economy and provides employment to 69 per cent of the total work force3. However, the Human Development Report 2004 indicated that growth in the primary sector has averaged 3

Government of Assam. Department of Labour. Employment Policy of Assam. January 2011. Web. 12 December. 2011. .

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just about 2 per cent in recent decades, the lowest amongst the three sectors. According to the Planning Commission’s report on Poverty, Health and Education in Assam: Achievements and Challenges4, poverty in Assam is a predominantly rural phenomenon. As per the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), 43rd and 50th Round Census of India, 42.07 per cent of the total poor population in Assam is self-employed in agriculture5. The government machinery is currently the major player in terms of running the state’s economy. Barring private sector investment in tea and retail industry, there is a profound lack of large scale private investment in the state’s economy, further limiting the possibilities of employment. The increasing rate of unemployment6 is mostly identified as the major cause of insurgency, unrest and terrorism in the north eastern region especially among the rural youth. Lack of productive avenues to utilise time and talent has been instrumental in driving the energy of the new generation towards anti-social behaviour. The government has been implementing various policies and schemes for improving the livelihood and employment scenario in the region. The Planning Commission in its Eleven Five Year Plan suggested a long term planning for all round infrastructure development and enhancement of productivity and scope of employment in primary sector including agro based industry sector. The government of Assam is also implementing various schemes for creating a range of livelihood opportunities in the state. Assam Bikas Yojana was introduced in the 11th Plan Period to create employment generation in Industries and Commerce sector. The state government’s Kalpataru Scheme offers financial assistance to the youth living Below Poverty Line for self employment and Mukhya Mantris Karmajyoti Scheme helps the traditional artisans of the state particularly the weavers, potters, carpenters etc by way of providing them with small tools as grants The Policy of Joint Forest Management assists the population having forest based livelihood to exploit the natural resources in a systematic manner, through conservation and protection of existing forests and wildlife resources and regeneration leading to sustainable harvest of forest produces. In spite of these concentrated efforts by the government, there is a sincere requirement of innovative social enterprises in the state to engage the unemployed youth in productive avenues. Social enterprises enable the rural population, self employed in agriculture, to earn additional income mainly during the non farming seasons through engagement in viable

Government of India. Planning Commission. Poverty, Health and Education in Assam: Achievements and Challenges. Web. 12 December. 2011. . 4

Government of India. Planning Commission. Poverty, Health and Education in Assam: Achievements and Challenges. Web 12 December 2011. http://planningcommission.nic.in/plans/stateplan/sdr_assam/sdr_assch4.pdf/> 5

The rate of unemployment among youth, aged 15-29, is as high as 19.27 per cent in Assam, much higher compared to the national average of 6.46 in 1993-94. Source: Aggarwal and Goyal (2000) The Indian Journal of Labour Economics, Vol. 43, No. 4 6

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micro enterprises. For the educated unemployed youth, the micro, small and medium enterprises open up space for socially and economically empowering dignified life. Dhriiti-The Courage Within, a national level non government organisation working for entrepreneurship development in the country came up with the vision of promoting entrepreneurship among the youth of rural Assam by encouraging and supporting them to set up their own micro enterprises. Taking the first step in that direction, Dhriiti identified the potential of developing an industry of arecanut leaf plates, the raw material of which was abundant in Assam. Arecanut, known as Tamul in Assamese, is one of the most important commercial crops with approximately 10 crore existing arecanut trees in the state7. Taking the cue from few existing endeavors in the southern part of the country, Dhriiti started an industry to manufacture disposable plates and bowls from arecanut sheaths which were not used for any productive purpose until then. After identifying the potential of the arecanut leaf plate industry in 2004, Dhriiti started its own pilot production unit at Barpeta district of Assam in February 2005. The pilot helped in identifying the existing loopholes and reconsidering the entire production, finance and marketing process before introducing it to the rural entrepreneurs. The success of the pilot encouraged Dhriiti to proceed with its plan to set up small manufacturing units of arecanut leaf plates across Assam and gradually in the other states of north east. Sl no.

Particulars

Quantity/ Area

1.

Total plantation of Arecanut (in hectares)

70,542

2

Total plantation of Arecanut (in bigha, 1 bigha= 14, 400 square meters)

5,29,065

3

Approximate no. of trees per bigha

200

4

Total no. of Arecanut trees

10,58,13,000

5

Approximate no. of sheaths per tree

10

6

Total no. of sheaths available

1,05,81,30,000

7

If 30% of this resource (arecanut sheaths) can be tapped

31,74,39,000

8

No. of sheaths required in each unit per year

1,00,000

9

No. of manufacturing units that can be set up

3174

TABLE

1: RAW MATERIAL POTENTIAL IN ASSAM . SOURCE: DHRIITI

Dhriiti- The Courage Within. Arecanut Leaf Plate Manufacturing Project proposal. Web 10 December 2011 < http://www.dhriiti.org/en/>. 7

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On the basis of its research work, Dhriiti proposes that there are enough raw materials available in Assam to set more than 3000 manufacturing units even if 30 per cent of the raw material can be tapped. Accordingly, Dhriiti targets to make arecanut leaf plate manufacturing a 100 crore industry for rural North East by 2015. OBJECTIVES 

To address the problem of unemployment through the promotion of sustainable community level micro enterprises



To make Arecanut Leaf Plate Manufacturing an INR 100 crore industry for rural northeast by 2015 through promotion of more than 1000 small production units



To provide an eco friendly and biodegradable alternative in the market for disposable plates PROGRAMME DESIGN Key Stakeholders 1. The Arecanut Leaf Plate Manufacturing Project was conceived and initiated by Dhriiti- The Courage Within, a national level non government organisation that works with the vision of promoting and protecting Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and building the spirit of entrepreneurship amongst the next generation of India. Since its inception in the year 2005, Dhriiti was actively involved in research and development to identify the best modes of production, distribution, and marketing processes. However, in 2010, Dhriiti handed over the responsibility of managing the project to Tamul Plates Marketing Private Limited Company (TPMPL), a company jointly promoted by the producers of Arecanut Leaf Plates Project and Dhriiti to market the plates nationally and internationally. 2. Tamul Plates Marketing Private Limited Company (TPMPL) was set up as a marketing support wing of the Arecanut Leaf Plate Manufacturing Project in 2008. The role of TPMPL, however, has evolved over the years and currently TPMPL is managing the project. In order to escalate the capacity of the project and to ensure economic sustainability of the initiative, TPMPL started its own production unit with 18 machines and 40 workers in 2011. With this, TPMPL emerged as an independent organisation, carved out of Dhriiti, providing technical, financial, marketing support to the rural producers and expanding the scale of the project.

3. The most important stakeholders of the project are the local producers, raw material suppliers and factory workers, the economic empowerment of whose

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was the prime focus of this innovative initiative.

PROCESS FLOW Research and Development: The Arecanut Leaf Plate Manufacturing Project started in 2005 with the setting up of the pilot production unit in Borpeta district of Assam. . The year 200506 was mostly invested in research and development for providing solutions for all the production related problems. The first manufacturing design developed encountered few issues due to humid weather conditions in Assam. It also ran on electricity that emerged as a challenge for those operating from the rural set up. With the help of Sandhya Engineering Concern in Howrah, a Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) based machine was developed so that even producers located in interior, technology-deprived areas could manufacture the plates and benefit from the project. During this period, Dhriiti also generated awareness for this product not only amongst rural communities but also with other stakeholders like local NGOs, government departments, wholesale markets, and banks. The production process: The machineries used:

The production process involves a small manufacturing unit consisting of 2 heat-press machines, water tank, and, a raw material and finished product stocking space. Each machine has 3 dies of different sizes, which can be easily interchanged and attached to any machine. The parts of the machine are also flexible and can be easily replaced or repaired. A dryer was developed recently in order to support the production processed during the rainy season. The basic units have a capacity to process 1, 50,000 pieces of arecanut sheaths per

Figure

1:

The

heat

press

annum, producing around 4, 50,000 plates/bowls.

machine

Raw material: The raw material used in the project is the arecanut sheath, which is an extension of the leaf. It is a hard material and has good tensile strength. The raw material of arecanut sheaths are not plucked from the trees but is collected once the leaves fall from the tress, thus it does not lead to environmental degradation in the region on this count.

Figure 2: Arecanut sheath

Storing facility: The sheaths need to be sun dried and stored before production. The sheaths can be stored for 9-12 months in a room with concrete posts, sand floor, bamboo 8

based wall and platforms for keeping the raw materials. TPMPL also has good storing facility for finished products. After proper packaging, those can be stored for more than 6 months. Cleaning of sheaths: Just before starting the production process, the sheaths are carefully cleaned in the water tanks and dried while taking care to retain their moisture content. A specially designed bio gas based dryer is used for this purpose during rainy seasons.

Figure 4: Replaceable dies

Figure 3: Water tank for cleaning sheaths

Manufacturing of arecanut leaf plates and bowls: The dried sheaths are placed inside the machine using the required die size to manufacture plates and bowls of different sizes. An effective cutting mechanism has been developed that ensures cutting of the products in the machine itself without use of external scissors. Financial cost: SL no

Particulars

Financial Cost (in INR)

1

Machinery (including dryer)

95000 ( + 60000)

2

Building

55206

(a)

Machine Rroom

18870

(b)

Storage room

26906

(c)

Foundation

6010

(d)

Water tanks

3420

3

Other equipments & material

6500

(a)

Hand pump (equipment & labour)

3000

(b)

Miscellaneous furniture & fixture

1500

(c)

Thela

2000

4

Preliminary & pre-operative expenses

4580

(a)

Gas connection

2400

9

(b)

Insurance

1180

(c)

Other out of pocket expenses

1000

Total fixed capital

221286

Table 2: Fixed capital for a single arecanut leaf plate manufacturing unit

Apart from the above projected fixed cost, the production unit requires a working capital for procurement of the raw materials, gas cylinders, final product packaging material (plastic), and administrative and maintenance expenses. The arecanut sheaths are procured from the local producers at a cost of INR 1 per piece (INR 0.50 as the cost of raw material and INR 0.50 as the transportation cost). A unit also provides direct employment to minimum 2 persons who work on a per piece system and earn between INR 2500 to 3000 per month. A worker earns INR 0.20 for cleaning per sheath. The remuneration differs according to the size of the arecanut leaf plates/bowls. INR 0.20 is paid for the production of plates/bowls with a diameter of 10 inches and INR 0.15 those with 6, 5 and 4 inches.The entrepreneur contributes 5 per cent of the total fund required and the rest is a bank loan with 30 per cent back ended subsidy. Marketing unit: In 2007, Dhriiti streamlined the production process in coordination with the existing producers and reduced the production risks by 90 per cent. During this financial year, Tamul Plates Marketing Private Limited Company (TPMPL) was also established with support from Sir Dorabjee Tata Trust (SDTT) in order to provide marketing support to the producers. TPMPL provides 100 per cent buy back guarantee to the producers of arecanut leaf plates. TPMPL purchases

the

products

from

the

individual

producers on a weekly basis at a fair trade price which is jointly decided by the company and producers. In order to encourage producers to come up with high quality output, TPMPL has set a quality grading system under which the company purchases Figure 5: TPMPL

the good quality products (grade A) at a higher rate

than the lower quality ones (grade B). Presently, the rate fixed for grade A produce is INR 2.50 and grade B produce is INR 2. TPMPL does not only market the product within north-east but also supplies it to other parts of the country. Through participation in various trade fairs and exhibitions, TPMPL has gained visibility and created a brand name for the product.

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Training and skill building: The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) sponsored a 5 day training and workshop, the Rural Entrepreneurship Development Programme, under the Rural Innovation Fund Scheme in 2008. The Arecanut initiative was also selected as a Rural Business Hub (RBH) by the Ministry of Panchayati Raj (MoPR), Government of India and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). FINANCIAL RESOURCES The pilot of the Arecanut Leaf Plate Manufacturing Project was supported by Friends of Woman’s Word Banking (FWWB) under the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Innovation Fund. Dhriiti initially took up the responsibility of providing linkages with banks and other monetary institutions for financing the units. Most of the units are financed by State Bank of India (SBI) and Assam Gramin Vikas Bank (AGVB) under Khadi Village Industries Commission’s (KVIC) Rural Employment Generation Programme (REGP), which provides a 30 per cent back end subsidy to the entrepreneurs. Currently, TPMPL is undertaking the responsibility of creating financial linkages and facilitating the working capital for the production units across the state. ACHIEVEMENTS Establishment of Units: Arecanut Leaf Plate Manufacturing Project has been able to promote 75 manufacturing units across Assam, as on 2011 December. Presently, the Arecanut Leaf Plate Manufacturing Units are established in several districts of Assam with special focus on 4 Bodoland districts of Baska, Chirang, Kokrajhar, Udalguri and the adjoining districts of Barpeta, Nalbari and Bongaigaon, as these regions have abundant and easily accessible raw material. Manufacturing units are also set in the upper Assam districts of Karbi Anglong, Jorhat and Dibrugarh. Technology Development: Development of a suitable technology has been one of the biggest achievements of Arecanut Leaf Plate Manufacturing Project. With extensive research work and on field experiences, the project has been able to mitigate production challenges that occurred due to humid weather conditions of the region and its existing electricity crisis. The technology developed and employed in the project has negated the issues of low quality products. In particular, such technological developments include: 

Efficient and effective gas based machines to suit the rural north east region’s electricity crisis conditions.



Innovative cutting technology that leads to faster production and good finish of products

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Simple procedures to counter the fungus problem without use of any chemicals. As a result, the present incidence of fungus on the products is less than 1 per cent.



Standardised dies of various shapes and sizes



Standard production process to suit the climatic conditions of north east India



Standard stock room and procedure for raw material storage due to which raw material can be stocked for more than 6 months



Stringent quality control and packaging techniques that have improved the shelf life of the product

Innovative and environment friendly product: The plates and bowls made out of arecanut leaves are available in five different sizes- 10, 7, 6, 5, and 4 inches. These disposable utensils can be used for serving and eating food. Some of the qualities of the raw material are as follows: •

Completely eco-friendly



Bio-degradable and compostable



Chemical free and non-toxic

• Hygienic •

Natural and attractive appearance



Microwave-oven and refrigerator safe



Sturdy and light that makes them convenient for use in buffet parties



Can hold liquid for 3-4 hours



Can be easily moulded into different shapes and sizes The above qualities of the raw material gives these plates

a

competitive

edge

over

the

existing

disposable plates available in the market, made out of plastic, thermocol, paper and sal patta. The demand for the product is mostly from places like national parks, hill stations, marriage halls, hotels, food chains, and temples. If marketed properlythen international markets for environment friendly Figure 6: Arecanut leaf plates

natural products can also be accessible.

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Capacity building: In order to expand the scope of the project and to ensure smooth operation of the units, the project invested extensively in training and workshops for the entrepreneurs. Such initiatives include: • A standard 6-day residential training package for new entrepreneurs • A highly interactive training module for imparting the soft, functional and technical skills required to operate an arecanut leaf plate manufacturing unit • A comprehensive guidebook for trainees to refer for all kind of queries •

Training more than 100 potential entrepreneurs

Market development: As the current market has started focusing on environment friendly products, market development for the product does not receive much resistance. Existence of the concentrated marketing unit TPMPL can be considered as a successful move in the direction. Generating an alternative source of livelihood: As the project uses locally available raw material and low cost technology, it has emerged as a viable livelihood generation option in rural Assam. The major achievement of the project lies in its ability to develop entrepreneurial spirit among the rural unemployed youth, by providing them a dignified livelihood generation activity. It is also providing a subsidiary occupation along with farming, ensuring year long employment for the rural population since agriculture is a seasonal activity. From its inception in 2005 to 2011, the project has been able to generate employment to approximately 1500 individuals in the state. Out of these, 300 people have adopted this enterprise as their prime source of employment. Approximate turnover of Arecanut Leaf Plate Project from 2007 to 2009 is INR 40 Lakh, out of which the producers of the arecanut plates earned a profit of INR 10 lakh and the raw material suppliers earned a profit of 15 lakh. CHALLENGES IN IMPLEMENTATION Financial constraints have emerged as the major challenge in setting up of new units in the region in spite of concentrated efforts by the project for creating financial linkages with banks and other financial institutions. The inability to procure loan in most instances is due to numerous reasons like limited capital to extend collateral security, red tapism involved in obtaining loans, ignorance of entrepreneurs and attitude of the banks.

Most financial

institutions expressed doubt on the viability of the project while sanctioning loans against it for the small time farmers. Another crucial challenge in implementing the project has been the traditional attitude of the rural people. The nature of the project allows its functioning from mainly rural areas.

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However, for the rural folk, agriculture remains their prime mode of livelihood, even though the Arecanut Leaf Plate Project provides ample opportunity for economic growth. For most part of the rural Assam, the farmers have taken up the project only as an additional source of income, to be carried out only in the non- agriculture seasons. This phenomenon has largely hampered the growth of the industry in the region. Another major issue observed is the high price for raw material procurement. Although the raw material is abundant and an unutilised natural product in the, the production units end up paying INR 1 per sheath, leading to high cost of production, and subsequently a high cost of selling that affects the market for the product mainly in the local areas. CONCLUSION As industrialisation is one of the major forces of economic development in any region, micro and small scale industries play a pivotal role in transforming the economy of a state like Assam where large and medium enterprises are almost absent. The Arecanut Leaf Plate Manufacturing Project not only provides a viable employment opportunity for the unemployed youth but also facilitates attainment of self reliance, equitable distribution of national income and balanced regional growth. Economic freedom is believed to pave way for regional peace and integration. Barring few challenges that exist in all small scale industries, the project exhibits tremendous potential for capturing both the national and international market with its unique environment friendly product. As the project has an exclusive marketing unit, the issue of sale through intermediaries also does not exist. In order to broaden its marketing scope and to survive the competition, particularly from large and small industries situated outside the region, the project must focus on reducing the production, selling and distribution cost of the products. Research was carried out by the OneWorld Foundation, Governance Knowledge Centre (GKC) team. Documentation was created by Research Associate, Ajupi Baruah For further information, please contact Mr. Rajiv Tikoo, Director, OWFI.

REFERENCES 1. Dhriiti- The Courage Within. Web 10 December 2011 < http://www.dhriiti.org/en/>. 2. Government of Assam. Department of Labour. Employment Policy of Assam. January

2011.

Web

12

December

2011



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3. Government of India Planning Commisssion. Poverty, Health and Education in Assam: Achievements and Challenges. Web 12 December 2011 APPENDIX A – INTERVIEW QUESTIONNAIRE Background: 1. According to our research, Dhriiti’s objective is to address the problem of unemployment through the promotion of sustainable community level micro enterprises. And the first enterprise Dhriiti set up in the region is Arecanut Leaf Plate Manufacturing units. i.

Can you explain the reason behind conceptualising this particular venture in the region?

ii.

Is this a first of its kind initiative in Assam/ Northeast? If yes, what motivated you to initiate this project?

Key stakeholders: 2. Who are the key stakeholders involved in this project? i.

What are their specific roles and responsibilities?

Working design: 3. According to our research, Dhriiti designed a ‘gas-based machine’ to manufacture the product easily in the remote areas. i.

Can you explain how this particular mode of production is helpful, specifically for remote areas?

ii.

Can you explain the production and manufacturing process of Arecanut Leaf Plate?

4. Tambul Plates Marketing Private Limited was established by Dhriiti to provide marketing assistance to the Arecanut Leaf Plate Manufacturing units. i.

Can you explain what kind of promotional and marketing strategies has been adopted so far by the company?

ii.

Has this product been promoted outside the northeastern region of India? If yes, what kinds of responses are obtained?

iii.

How is the market for the product in Assam/ outside Assam?

5. The enterprise is working closely with the Self Help Groups (SHGs) i.

What is nature of this partnership?

ii.

How many SHGs are there in total?

iii.

What benefits do the SHGs derive from this project? 15

6. According to our research, each Arecanut Leaf Plate Manufacturing Unit provides direct employment to 2 persons and indirect employment to 10 other persons. i.

Is the revenue obtained enough for a full time employee person?

Challenges in implementation 7. According to our research, few of the established units have failed and subsequently closed down. i.

Can you explain the reason for the failure of these units?

ii.

Did you face any other challenge in implementing the project so far? If yes, what are they and how have these been overcome?

Training and Support 8. According to our research, NABARD helps in conducting these training programmes. i.

What is the nature of these training programmes?

ii.

Are there any other agencies that conduct training? If yes, who are they and what is their specific role?

9. According to our research, the implementation process ensures that the beneficiaries receive adequate amount of hand holding to set up their enterprises and establish the right systems so that they are not dependent on Dhriiti after a two-year support period. i.

Is there a process of following up these beneficiaries to verify the sustainability of the enterprise?

Financial Support 10. What is the financial model of an Arecanut Leaf Plate Manufacturing Unit? i.

What is the establishment and maintenance cost of one particular unit?

ii. As the initial set up cost is covered by subsidised bank loans, mostly from the SBI and Assam Gramin Vikas. Does it have the financial sustainability to bear the maintenance cost by itself? iii. Other than SBI and AGVB, are there other financial partners of Arecanut project? If yes, please elaborate on the nature of that financial partnership? 11. According to our research, one Arecanut Leaf Plate Manufacturing Unit can generate an income of rupees 2 lakh per annum to farmers.

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i.

Has it been similar for all the functional units across Assam?

ii.

Is the income generated enough to carry out project’s objectives?

Measuring Success 12. The initiative has the target of making Arecanut Leaf Plate Manufacturing Project a 100 crore industry by 2015. i.

How far the project has reached in materialising this target? What are the further plans in this direction?

ii.

Is there any plan to upscale this programme in Northeast or in other parts of India?

13. Please provide quantitative data of this year on the following: i. ii. iii. iv. v. vi.

Number of manufacturing unit set up in Assam: Output Quantity (Approx): Direct employment generation Indirect employment generation Annual income of one unit Number of entrepreneurs trained

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