SHILLONG: Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma on Friday said state government’s ‘farmers’ welfare programme – FOCUS – would benefit over 4.5 lakh farmers in the mountainous state.

The FOCUS innovative inclusive scheme with an estimated budget of Rs 200 crore was launched in September last year to provide the financial assistance of Rs 5,000 to each farmer.

While distributing various tools and essentials at a function in South Garo Hill’s Chokpot, the Chief Minister said that the FOCUS programme was conceptualised by taking into consideration the economic hardship that the farming community had to face due to Covid-19.

He said that through this programme, the farmers are grouped together as farmers collective – “Producers Groups” and financial assistance of Rs 5,000 is provided to each memeber in the group. The funds can be used as seed money for upscaling farming activities.

On Friday, Sangma distributed cheques amounting to Rs. 1.2 crore to 170 “Producer Groups” under the programme, to boost up their farming and entrepreneurial activities.

He also attended the ‘SHG Mela’ in Chokpot and extended financial assistance worth over Rs 1 crore to 29 village organisations and Self-Help Groups.

Sangma said that the MDA government is happy to support the women-led SHG movement that is empowering enterprising women at the grassroots level.

He said that the government has introduced various funding options to encourage entrepreneurial activities, wherein interest-free loans are being provided to the people.

The government’s welfare programmes are targeted for overall improvement in farming activities, farmers’ sustainable income, marketing linkages and ensures that agricultural and horticulural products of the state are promoted and marketed for optimum benefits.

He also announced that Rs 100 crore plus has been sanctioned for various infrastructure development projects in the Chokpot area, including Chokpot Water Supply, Guest House, new Civil Sub Division building and a road 12 miles to Chokpot.

Clean Cook-stoves under the CSR initiative of the Global Himalayan Expedition were also distributed to beneficiaries at the event.

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