Though the majority of the villagers in rural India depend on agriculture as their primary occupation, non-farm income generation is crucial to provide steady cash income and employment during the lean season or in the case of crop failure. A primary strategy of PIDT’s work in this area draws on existing skills and resources, promoting innovation and entrepreneurship in tandem with market integration. Self-Help Group formation works closely with the enhancement of traditional skills and livelihoods to instil pride and foster self-esteem while providing access to markets and opening villages to communication.

Vocational Training
PIDT also conducts trainings in other useful occupations to broaden people’s livelihood opportunities. Such trainings have included hand-pump repair for women to work as village-level mechanics and silk-worm rearing, which has brought substantial off-season income to our farmers in Utter Pradesh.

Alternative Banking
Another key component of self-reliant livelihood enhancement efforts has been evolution of village samities into Self-Help Groups enable

generation of savings and to break the cycle of dependence on money-lenders. Self-Help Groups are usually composed of 10-15 members of the same gender, though sometimes mixed, who learn to save and pool financial resources and assets for greater leverage in community development initiatives.

Community banks may start with in-kind contributions such as a grain store for the dry season or a jointly purchased and shared goat. Once a surplus has been accumulated, members are able to lend to each other in times of need and to enter into joint investment ventures. Over 300 of these groups have been linked to bank credit, having demonstrated a strong consistent record, where banks were previously unwilling to take the risk.

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