Some Experiences from Sri Lanka - 1
06 / 1994
The Project for Co-operation Action by Small Farmers(PROCAS)in Sri Lanka assists small farmers to increase their income levels and thereby raise their living standards promoting self reliance and development.
PROCAS implements Thrift and Credit Co-operative Societies(TCCS)in target villages to achieve its aims of self sufficiency and development for small farmers through credit and savings.
The implementation of the credit and savings scheme is handled by trained PROCAS staff who are responsible for identifying loanees as a preliminary step.
The target area of a village of small scale farmers is identified through research and PROCAS uses an elaborate system to identify prospective loanees.
First, a poor rural farming village is selected and the government officers of the area are briefed of the programme.
Research Officers(ROs)of PROCAS then visit the selected farming village and carry out several surveys to gather information on the target group.
A first survey called the Village Survey is carried out to familiarise the ROs with the general conditions of the village in terms of economy, population, social organisation and occupational structure.
A second survey called the Preliminary Survey identifies small farmer households from the households in the entire village.
A third survey, the Elementary Household Survey helps choose a number of households to become prospective loanees and the fourth survey, the Detailed Household Survey gives further information through an indepth study, on the group of prospective loanees selected from the third survey.
The target group is then addressed by the ROs and helped to identify their problems and to seek possible solutions. This group action promotes a togetherness which is essential when the target population is mobilised to form themselves into a formal group.The group then becomes the Thrift and Credit Cooperative Society of the village.
The target group of the programme involves a number of women even though the programme has not been styled to attract more women. Before the implementation of the project the women in the target area have been known to shy away from participating in organised activities. But the TCCS with its promise of helping women to increase their household incomes has attracted a number of poor women.
The participation of women has enabled PROCAS to formulate a number of additional programmes for women. A family health education programme and home gardening programme to generate income have been implemented broadening the sphere of income generating activity within the scheme.
The involvement of the Government Officer(GO)of the project area in selecting loanees is important. The GO of a certain area works closely with the people and would, undoubtedly , know individual families intimately; thus making the the GO an ideal source of information to learn the actual economic and social status of potential beneficiaries.
However this method could work adversely too, where a GO may favour and promote a family which is not actually in need of credit support. This posible set back however is averted by the number of surveys the Research Officers of PROCAS carry out after the target area has been identified and before the loanees are selected.
Case studies of project for co-operative action by small farmers (PROCAS). This article was obtained from the book "promotion of savings and credit among the rural poor : some experiences from Sri Lanka"
ETAMPAWALA, M., ROYAL TROPICAL INSTITUTE OF AMSTERDAM; RURAL DEVELOPMENT TRAINING AND RESEARCH INSTITUTE, RTI (AMSTERDAM)AND RDTRI (COLOMBO), 11/1985 (SRI LANKA)
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