Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Mandi along with the Enabling Women of Kamand (EWOK) Society has signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoU) with the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD).

IIT Mandi will get Rs 35 lakh under the MoU with NABARD for collaboration on setting up Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh.

The Mou was signed Venkata Krishnan, Dean Sponsored Research and Industrial Consultancy (SRIC), IIT Mandi, Sandhya Menon, Secretary, EWOK Society and Nilay Kapoor, Chief General Manager, NABARD.

Krishnan said the MoU signed with IIT Mandi and EWOK society will be able to connect and help the community at large in Himachal.

Expressing his views on this collaboration, Nilay Kapoor said NABARD was collaborating to sanction three Farmer Producer Organizations to EWOK and IIT, Mandi.

“This marks a new beginning for collaboration with prestigious institutes like IIT, Mandi.

The Regional Office proposes to sign a tri-partite agreement involving NABARD, EWOK and IIT, Mandi for developing farmer-friendly equipment. In addition, opportunities will be explored for collaboration in areas like Internet of Things in Agriculture, watershed, rural mart etc,” he said, adding it will go a long way in solving the problems of farmers and doubling of farmers’ income.

IIT Mandi will identify clusters for setting up the FPOs, create awareness among farmers, train the Chief Executive Officer and Board of Directors of the FPOs and prepare the business development plan.

IIT Mandi and EWOK Society share a common vision of helping the society at large by exchanging knowledge and expertise.

Apart from setting up the FPOs, other potential areas of collaboration in which the Institute will provide its expertise includes tourism, rural marts run by Self-Help Groups (SHGs), engineering solutions for farm-friendly equipment, research on the impact of climate change on agri incomes, among others.

EWOK Society secretary Sandhya Menon said they have been working with the women and family in the greater Kamand area in both farm and non-farm sectors to encourage women entrepreneurs at grass root level.

“In the farm related activities, along with IIT Mandi Medicinal Plant lab, some successful pilot programmes have been run for the past 2 years.

The support from NABARD has come at the right time in order to scale up these programmes to ensure a sustainable model in income generation for farmers in the long run in this area.

In the coming years, EWOK will play its role to form FPOs and guide in building out the FPO business activity and market linkages. Additionally, EWOK will continue to focus on skills development and increasing incomes of the women and families in the surrounding rural areas, especially through entrepreneurship,” Menon added.