Gham Power has identified a significant concern among farmers regarding their financial inputs. When being on fieldwork, our Agri-experts realized, how many farmers, particularly women who are actively involved in agricultural activities, lack knowledge on how to effectively manage their finances. To address this issue, Gham Power has initiated a campaign specifically targeting smallholder farmers to make them aware of financial literacy.
The campaign consists of multiple episodes, with three episodes already aired to date. In our upcoming episode, we will be talking about Agriculture and Livestock insurance and how it benefits farmers. The first episode focused on introducing the audience to the concept of the Kishan Credit Card. This card functions similarly to a regular debit card, allowing farmers to purchase agricultural inputs by loading funds onto the card. However, the Kishan Credit Card cannot be used to withdraw money from ATMs or for any non-agricultural purposes.
The guest for this initial episode was Sunita Nhemaphuki – the Founder of R&D Innovative Solution Pvt. Ltd., who provided valuable insights and information about the Kishan Credit Card to our users. One of the key advantages of the Kishan Credit Card is its low-interest rate, making it an attractive option for farmers. However, it is important to note that the repayment procedure for the card is the same as that of a regular debit card. Generally, farmers can charge a minimum amount of NRs. 25,000 and a maximum of NRs. 5,00,000 to their Kishan Credit Cards, (which might vary on the financial institution) empowering them to make essential agricultural purchases while effectively managing their finances. The response to the first episode was overwhelming, with 200+ participants in the training session. Although the majority of the participants were smallholder farmers, agriculture students were also present.
The second episode of the campaign focused on the topic of subsidies discussed with Gham Power’s agri-expert Hardik Sapkota alongside the Chief of the Agricultural Division of Pokhara Metropolitan City, who provided valuable insights into the subsidy procedures. They provided valuable insights on how subsidies in Nepal are introduced in the new fiscal year according to the Nepali calendar and about the surveys conducted to assess the needs of farmers and gather other necessary inputs for the subsidy process. Additionally, the subsidy program based on Pokhara primarily targets fish farmers, who get subsidies for digging water streams like ponds. For farmers engaged in cultivating off-season crops, the local government provides plastic tunnels for crop preservation. This subsidy model follows a standard 50% coverage. Despite this subsidy, smallholder farmers often struggle to bear the remaining 50% of the cost, leading them to rely on loans to fulfill their requirements.
To address the concerns of agricultural loans, the agri-officer of NMB Bank was invited for the third episode, where the focus was on the procedures and provisions of agricultural loans for farmers. Generally, smallholder farmers take loans to expand their agricultural operations, using their businesses as collateral. However, some deserving farmer candidates are unable to obtain loans because they lack an existing business as they require financing to start their agricultural ventures.
In addition to these obstacles, commercial banks are reluctant to mobilize ticket-size loans, as they view it as a significant risk. The ever-changing base interest rates of commercial banks pose a challenge for aspiring farmers without an established business, making it difficult for them to secure loans. Repayment concerns also play a pivotal role in banks’ reluctance to provide agricultural loans leading to banks refusing loan applications from farmers. These challenges highlight the need for innovative solutions and support mechanisms to enable smallholder farmers to access the necessary financial resources for their agricultural activities.
Contributed by Sijerina Nepal, Content Writing and Marketing Intern.