Rural business hubs to promote Bastar handicrafts

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Kondagaon, Chhattisgarh, Dec 31 (UNI) Rural business hubs (RBH) are being set up in tribal Bastar region of Chhattisgarh to promote the unique bell metal and other handicrafts through public-private-panchayat partnership, official sources said.

Three non-government organisations (NGOs), working on bell metal, terracotta, iron crafts and wood crafts and a cooperative society working in bell metal had signed memoranda of understanding (MOUs) with Handicrafts Board, State Bank of India and three panchayat bodies for developing six RBHs at a function here yesterday.

Union Minister of State for Commerce P Jairam Ramesh, who attended the function, said the project would benefit more than 25,000 traditional artisans as they would get direct market access, value addition benefits through better designs, market trends, improved technology and upgraded quality of their products.

According to the MoU, the Handicraft Board will offer support from the schemes of Chhattisgarh government such as exhibition and marketing through their outlets while SBI's role would be to issue artisan credit cards for working capital loans and coordination with other banks and NABARD.

The private partners--SAATHI, Bastar Craft Development Association, Adarsh Shilp Shakti Mahasamuh, all NGOs-- and Hast Shilp Udyog Sahakari Samiti, a cooperative society working in bell metal, would offer business support in terms of providing continuous job orders and access to markets.

Block panchayats of Kondagaon, Bastar and Farasgaon would play an active role in mobilising artisans, organising them in common interest groups facilitating support through stakeholders in the form of convergence of different schemes. Besides, panchayat bodies would also provide a transparent mechanism for fair and timely payments to beneficiaries and taking up development activities in respective rural business hubs.

UNI

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