Infrastructure

Assam: UNDP thumbs up for Goalpara’s online rural market | Guwahati News

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GUWAHATI: A United Nations Development Program (UNDP), India report has recommended GoalMart, an e-commerce initiative in Assam’s Goalpara district, for countries where regional disparities in the development status persist.
The report, which was handed over by UNDP India resident representative, Shoko Noda, to NITI Aayog vice-chairman, Rajiv Kumar, and CEO Amitabh Kant on Friday, captures the progress of the Aspirational Districts Programme launched in 2018.
GoalMart has been an initiative of the Assam State Rural Livelihood Mission (ASRLM) and district administration to promote rural, ethnic and agrarian products of the district in national and global markets. Known for its farm fresh organic agro products, rice and leafy vegetables, the portal was helpful during the pandemic for the procurement of household produce.
Inhabited mostly by tribals and minority communities, Goalpara is one of the seven aspirational districts of the state. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma lauded the best practices of the aspirational districts that have been selected in the UNDP report.
Goalpara’s black rice, a favorite on this portal, which has also proven to be highly profitable for the farmers, found special mention. Uttar Pradesh’s Chandauli district also decided to experiment with the cultivation of black rice due to its high demand in global markets and good profit margins. “The project was a success and high-quality black rice is now being exported to Australia and New Zealand,” read a PIB release.
Dhruba Jyoti Gogoi, state project manager, Livelihood and Marketing, ASRLM, told TOI that around 200 beneficiaries are involved in the project in Goalpara. “Our target is to create avenues so that farmers, who cultivate individually, can yield fair prices for the farmers at the grassroots. A large number of marginal farmer families in districts like Goalpara could hardly reap benefits from their produce as procurers want to buy in bulk,” he said.
“Papaya, banana, and quality rice are among the items which can change the lives of the people in Goalpara. But over the years, we have seen that the families sell their produce at a minimal rate though these organic products can help them earn more by grading,” Gogoi said. The GoalMart portal, he said, has worked as a connecting link between traders and farmers. The Goalpara district administration and ASRLM have played facilitators. The portal has brought buyers not only close to farmers but also fine craftsmen and local weavers of Goalpara’s Rabha community.
While the mekhela chadar for women and designer Rabha coats have attracted buyers, innovative products like the water hayacinth hat has been a bit draw on the portal. “We owe it to your pragmatic and long-term transformational vision Hon PM. The success of ADP and its recognition is a fine tribute to your focus on good governance and holistic growth Sir. Glad to see Assam’s Goalpara GoalMart program recognized among best practices,” tweeted Assam CM Himanta on Saturday.
The programme has strengthened the technical and administrative capacities of the districts. However, the report said there was a need to focus more on capacity building, including the appointment of dedicated personnel such as Aspirational District Fellows or Technical Support Units across all the districts or to collaborate with development partners for providing technical expertise and skill training. “India’s Aspirational Districts Programme aims to ensure inclusive & all-round development in areas across our nation. Under this programme, many districts have witnessed holistic transformation. Glad to see the @UNDP report highlight its salient features,” tweeted Modi.
Around 12-15 women are being encouraged to form self-help groups in Goalpara so that they can get trained to produce more handmade products and engage in farming. “Any quality handmade product can be brought to GoalMart. Water hyacinth is abundant in Assam but from our block it was given the shape of a beautiful hat,” Biju Pradhan, block project manager, ASRLM at Rangjuli, said.

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