The Farmers’ Clubs initiative was started to promote agricultural activity and provide a supplementary source of income for the marginal farmers in the K V Kuppam block.
Each club consists of 15 to 20 members. With the support of Vellore Rural Community Trust, interest free loans of Rs 30,000 (£300) are provided to selected farmers to buy cows for milking. The farmers repay the loan in easy instalments; 20% of the repayment goes to the Elderly Welfare Centres and the remaining amount is reinvested in other interested beneficiaries. The scheme began in 2012 with three farmers’ clubs. There are now seven clubs with a total of 114 members and 49 cows. RUHSA plan to start two more clubs in 2016.
The loan provides an opportunity for marginal farmers to purchase high milk yielding cows which substantially increases their income. Any surplus income can be used to fund other agricultural activities or for purchasing new cows. The interest free nature and the ease of repayment of the loan have considerably reduced the financial burden on the farmers, who are very poor and many have large families to support. The scheme is recognised by the government which means the farmers are eligible for grants and other support e.g. fodder subsidy, equipment loans, irrigation funding.
28 farmers from RUHSA’s Farmers’ Clubs attended an Agricultural Exhibition in August 2015 in Vellore. The farmers were able to see agricultural equipment, seed samples, plant and animal samples and demonstrations on cultivation. Talks on various issues faced in agriculture and animal husbandry were given by experts and veteran agriculturalists.
After almost a decade long wait, the ponds, canals and wells of rain dependant farmers were filled with water due to heavy rains during the months of November and December 2015. Farmers have started to cultivate rice and believe they should have enough water for at least a year.
If you would like to make a donation, the cost of a cow is £300. RUHSA hope to start two new clubs in 2016, each with five cows.