By Our Reporter
¬†SHILLONG: The North Eastern Region Community Resource Management Project (NERCORMP) has, after many hiccups successfully carved out a niche for itself as a facilitating agency to improve the livelihoods of vulnerable groups in a sustainable manner. Through improved management of the resource base of villagers the project helps in preserving and restoring the environment. NERCORMP is a joint project of North Eastern Council (NEC), Union Ministry of DoNER and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
The first phase of the project started in 1999 and concluded in September 2010. It covered two districts each in Meghalaya, Assam and Manipur. The project is now into its 2nd phase and will be completed in 2016. The present project is covering the same six districts in the three states. “Our target is to cover 400 new villages, basically the adjoining villages, which were covered under the 1st phase,” said Adrian Marbaniang, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer.
NERCORMP is involved in capacity building of communities and participating agencies, in generating livelihood activities by focusing on organic agriculture, sustainable shifting cultivation, livestock and fisheries, forestry, NTFP, medicinal and aromatic plants.
Non-farm enterprises include eco-tourism, handloom and handicrafts etc.
The project provides revolving fund for social sector activities such as low cost toilet, drinking water and tackling health issues, constructing village roads and rural electrification. Community based bio-diversity conservation and natural resource management are important components of the project.
The total project fund utilised in the first phase was Rs 166.25 crore.
The second phase with a Rs 200-crore corpus which got underway in July 2010 will also cover the same states but is targeting the adjoining villages covered under first phase.
Presently 400 new villages and 860 old villages with 20, 000 new households and 39,161 old households are covered. In its 3rd phase NERCORMP proposes to undertake projects in Arunachal Pradesh (Tirap and Changlang) and Manipur (Churachandpur and Chandel) which will cover 1177 villages and 58,850 households.
NERCORMP implements all its projects through Village Level Institutions (VLIs) which take on board the interest of farmers.
“Our objective is to provide them with sustainable income generating livelihoods,” said Abhijeet Sarkar, Marketing Coordinator. The farmers are provided with ginger plantation, bee-keeping, entrepreneurship activities, training etc.
“Our aim is to help farmers upscale their activities. We provide them training – on and off the field – in technology transfer, capacity building by our basic support team.” he said. The training programs are also imparted with the help of Meghalaya Rural Development Society, IFAD, experts from the same field, NERCORMP staff, DST and IIM, Shillong.
At present NERCORMP has a small retail outlet at its office at Dhankheti-Malki here in the city. Besides this, Dutta Brothers, Rynjah is its authorised outlet. They are scouting out for more outlets in the city. With buyers from all over India, the retail selling point in its office started in November 2010 and mainly deals in products ranging from Durama Tea (West Garo Hills), Aloe Vera Soap, Juice and Gel (West Garo Hills), Aloe Vera Soap (North Cachar Hills), Candles (Karbi Anglong), Honey (Nongstoin and Senapati), Banana Chips, Gooseberry Candies, Wild Apple Candies (Ukhrul).
These items are also on sale in the six project districts besides the Regional Society, here. The NERCORMP earns no profit as all earnings are transferred to the District Sales Team (DST) and concerned federations.
It organises capacity building workshops, seminars, technology know-how and holds trade fairs in the month of May every year, called the “Neat Fest”.
“Neat (North East Agro Business Trade) is our registered brand and all products from six project districts are displayed at the fair. We have been running this fair for the last three years since 2009. Capacity building is important for farmers because if farmers don’t have exposure, then they don’t know the loopholes in their products,” said Sarkar.
NERCORMP is now using the services of “India Development Gateway” – a Government of India portal that provides a common online platform for buyers and sellers – maintained by CDAC (Centre for Development of Advanced Computing) to sell the products.
“We have uploaded our brands in the portal, so if any buyer wants any product he has to fill up a small info space. The buyers’ info first reaches CDAC – which in turn forwards it to us. We get around 20/30 business enquiries every month. We provide discounts and gifts on retail selling too,” Sarkar added.