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This will finally pave the way to create more inclusive work environment and promote gender diversity in workplace
Aug 16,2016

FICCI Ladies Organisation (FLO) applauds the decision of the Government for giving ex-post facto approval for amendments to the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 by introducing the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in Parliament, which aims to raise maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks, as an Amendment to the original Bill of 1961.

As a 33 year old Business Chamber, working towards women empowerment in India, FLO has always been reiterating on the need of looking at maternity benefits as a tool for attracting and retaining women in the work force.

A recent report by the McKinsey Global Institute points out that Indias 2025 GDP can increase from 16% to 60% by simply increasing female workforce participation by giving them same opportunities as men.

We at FLO, believe in creating an environment that is conducive to the personal and professional growth of all employees. Whether it is safety in the work place or realistic maternity leave and benefits or flexible working hours and most importantly existence of quality crn++ches.

n++This initiative would be a good step towards finding solutions to retain female employees and simultaneously it would also be a strengthening move towards increased return to work postmaternity and greater employee retention in the long runn++, said Ms. Vinita Bimbhet, President, FLO. n++This will finally pave the way to create more inclusive work environment and promote gender diversity in workplacen++, added Ms. Bimbhet.

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Lot of scope to reduce repo rate, competitive economies significantly better in costs of credit : PHD Chamber
Aug 16,2016

While welcoming the third Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement for 2016-17 by RBI, Dr. Mahesh Gupta, President, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that there is a lot of scope to reduce the repo rate as good monsoon is visible and inflationary expectations are also benign.

At this juncture, economy should be supported by lower interest rates to enhance the demand for durables and to boost up the manufacturing sector, said Dr. Gupta.

Cost of credit to businesses is high as compared with many competitive economies, impacting not only in the domestic market but also in the international markets, he said.

Indias repo rate at 6.5% is significantly higher as compared with the worlds 5 largest manufacturing countries including China (4.35%), United States of America (0.5%), Japan (-.1%), Germany (0) and Republic of Korea (1.25%).

Other competitive economies such as Thailand (1.5%), Hong Kong (0.75%), Malaysia (3%), Singapore (0.37%), Taiwan (1.38%) are significantly better than India in the costs of credit.

Going ahead, we expect a significant cut in repo rate to facilitate the competitiveness of the manufacturing sector and to compete in the international market, said Dr. Mahesh Gupta.

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Vegetable prices soar while wholesale-retail price gap as high as 80%: ASSOCHAM study
Aug 16,2016

Prices of most of vegetables like potato, cabbage, chilly, tomato, cauliflower, brinjal and okra have seen a price rise between 20 and 100 per cent, hit by low arrivals of the harvest in the mandis during the April-July period of 2016 and what is most worrying is that the trend is visible during the peak season of production, an ASSOCHAM comprehensive study on vegetables noted.

At the retail level, potato store went up by over 100 per cent during April-July this year over the same period of 2015, cabbage (49.3 percent), chilly (47.8 percent), garlic (37.0 percent), cauliflower (33.9 percent), tomato local (26.0 percent), tomato hybrid (25.6 percent), potato fresh (25.0 percent), okra (22.3 percent), and brinjal round (20.8 percent).

The study which covered several mandis noted with concern, n++it indicates a worrying situation where market arrivals of vegetables have recorded contraction despite being peak season for production. In the shorter horizon, there will be more pressure on the market arrivals of vegetables as production season easesn++.

ASSOCHAM Secretary General Mr D S Rawat noted another worrying trend emerging out of the study. n++There is a huge gap between retail and wholesale price of vegetables. On an all - India average, retailers are selling at more than 52.7 per cent of wholesale prices n++.

The situation has been compounded by lower level of arrivals in the mandis, for the period under review.

As for the gap between the wholesale and retail prices, it is as much as over 75 in some cases like brinjal (round) and over 62 per cent for tomato (desi or local). Likewise, in terms of locational gaps, it is notoriously high by as much as over 80 per cent and places like Mumbai, Delhi and Patna while in several other cities, it is well over 50 per cent.

Lack of basic infrastructure puts further strain in the arrival of vegetables which results in more wastage of vegetables during peak time of production and because of their perishable nature producers have to sell immediately. In general, producers do not gain when prices increase.

n++Therefore there is a need of building cold storage facilities in production centers. Government should improve infrastructure facility by encouraging PPP initiative for the development of cold storage. Also there is need to develop infrastructure that could be directly accessible to the farmers and bridge the gap between fields and markets n++, the study emphasized.

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State and forest toll plazas should be rationalized: Raghav Chandra, Chairman, NHAI
Aug 16,2016

State and forest toll plazas should be rationalized, Mr Raghav Chandra, Chairman, National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) at an ASSOCHAM event.

We will work with other state government and ministries to identify the problems at various check post where multiple agencies connect tolls of various time, the state excise toll and forest toll should be rationalized, said Mr Chandra while inaugurating conference on Roadtech: Sustainable Roads and Highways, organised by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).

Mr Raghav Chandra, Chairman, National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) said in past, maintenance gets low priority due to poor capital budgeting. He said that the developers being incentivized not just build a road but to also maintain it for the life cycle of the concession of the contract.

n++Maintaining Opex is difficult for governmentn++, said Chandra. We are looking at economically efficiency corridors and have identified some 15,000 Km of roads where we will have to convert two lanes to four lanes, to increase economic efficiencies by connecting points which have been left out historically.

We should have four lanes access controlled highways which will ensure the quality of the safety feature etc and ensure the six lanes can widened up later on. Greenfield expressway and greenfield corridors should be further upgradable with highest quality safety features land acquisitionn++, added NHAI Chairman.

Mumbai to Kolkata corridor can be made more efficient by creating a new connection of about 665 Km; the road transcend from 4 lane to 2 lanes in several places, 2 lanes to 4 lanes and zigzag at many places. So, all those need to be rationalized and so that traffic can move more efficiently and faster, said NHAI Chairman.

We are also identifying the choke points in cities, places which require bypasses, flyovers, interchanges and in days to come another area of focus for us, mentioned Mr. Chandra.

n++We have also introduced electronic tolling on our corridors and 365 toll plazas along national highways, electronic equipment facility is available all about 355 only about 10 are left where still using handmade devices.

He mentioned, CRRI conducted a study by collecting 70 tonnes of municipal solid waste from different locations of 5/10/15 years old from Ghazipur land fill site of Municipal Corporation of Delhi and have recommended the municipal solid waste contains about 65 to 70% of soil components which can be used in embankment construction after segregation from the municipal solid waste.

He further said, the quality of paints which are used in highways are very poor in India. In this regard, I have set up a small committee headed by Mr. Patankar to look into. We are not looking cost of the paints only but also how long the paints should last.

The Urban development in India has been good but country development is bad. The highways suffer because of the poor country planning hampering highway development, said Mr. Chandra.

We will be planting 1,000 trees per km and looking at 10 crore trees over the next seven-ten years; lot of public sector organization like a Power Finance Corporation and Coal India etc coming forward as a part of CSR to ties up with us and part of green highway initiated under the National Authority of India, said Mr. Chandra.

We have identified 184 flyovers to be done next 4-5 years, about 294 under passes, 5000 km left over service raods, 2 lakhs signage, 550 junction points etc and the work is going and Im sure this number will keep increasing. Industry should get in involved in these areas and able to focus on them.

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Raising EPFs equity exposure imperative to realise Indias demographic advantage: ASSOCHAM-Crisil study
Aug 16,2016

There is a need to increase the asset allocation to equity allowed in retirement funds from current level at 5-15 per cent of incremental flows as it will help in realising the countrys huge demographic advantage, an ASSOCHAM-Crisil joint study has said.

n++At five per cent, overall exposure to equity could barely reach five per cent in 20 years, and even if allocation was increased to 15 per cent, it may take three more years to cross the five per cent overall mark,n++ highlighted the ASSOCHAM-Crisil joint study titled For greater good.

n++The global exposure level is much higher - in OECD countries, for instance, the average is near 30 per cent, it is imperative, therefore, to increase this exposure level,n++ it said.

The opportunity is much bigger for exempt trusts since they have greater flexibility to invest compared with EPFO, further stated the study.

n++There is no denying that equity investments are fraught with risks and require relevant infrastructure and risk management expertise, which these bodies may not possess. But, the risks tend to level out over the long term,n++ it added.

The study suggested for appointing professional fund managers to take apt investment decisions for the retirement fund body.

n++Besides, they can consider outsourcing this risk management function to independent third-party investment analytics firms which have no conflict of interest, and which can guide and monitor investment management,n++ it said.

The study has suggested the exempt trusts to emulate the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) to adequately monitor and professionally manage the investments with sound investment, governance practices and processes.

This is because most have only a rudimentary form of investment management at the moment - operating largely on the basis of advice at the time of investment. n++Exempt trusts need to address this, by putting in place requisite infrastructure and expertise.n++

It also said that PFs need to define investment policy in a well-articulated manner, clearly charting out roles and responsibilities of the investment team and committee, the investment universe, the monitoring framework for exposure limits at rating, issuer and sector levels and framework for performance and portfolio review.

Regular and independent review of portfolio by experts can help. And since credit quality of issuers forming part of the portfolio needs constant vigil, early warning systems for credit assessment can be put in place.

The study highlighted that as per a global analysis of investments, the OECD countries, despite having an ageing economy, they continue to remain strongly invested in long-term asset classes like equity and even the non-OECD countries are putting their demographic advantage to better use by investing in equities.

In India, however, pension assets are predominantly invested in debt. This is despite the demographic advantage the country has and is expected to enjoy over a long term.

Currently, 44 per cent Indias population is working age, and this is estimated to become 48 per cent by 2050.

n++The young population has a long-term investment horizon, which calls for greater allocation to long-term asset class (such as equity) for wealth creation to meet the needs in sunset years,n++ suggested the ASSOCHAM-Crisil study.

According to an analysis, equity has the ability to generate stable positive returns over the long term, evidently as the S&P BSE Sensex has not given negative return in any 15-year period, and 93 per cent of the times given returns more than 10 per cent.

Besides, in the 10-year investment horizon, 82 per cent of the times returns have been more than 10 per cent.

n++To be sure, as the investment horizon increases, the volatility in equity returns decreases significantly,n++ said the study.

It also noted that being one of the fastest-developing economies, India certainly presents a positive case for equity investment.

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WPI inflation rises to 23-months high of 3.55% in July 2016
Aug 16,2016

The Wholesale Price Index (WPI)-based inflation jumped to 23-months high of 3.55% in July 2016. An increase in inflation was driven surge in inflation for all three major sub-groups- primary articles, fuel & power and manufactured products in July 2016.

Inflation of primary articles increased to 9.4% in July 2016 from 5.5% in June 2016. The inflation for manufactured products accelerated to 1.8% in July 2016. Further, the inflation for fuel items jumped to (-) 1% in July 2016 from (-) 3.6% in June 2016.

As per major commodity group-wise, inflation increased for foodgrains, vegetables, fruits, egg, fish, raw cotton, oilseeds, raw rubber, crude petroleum, coal, mineral oils, sugar, grain mill products, edible oils, textiles, chemical products, cement, and gold & gold ornament in July 2016. On the other hand, inflation declined for spices, flowers, and electricity in July 2016.

Inflation of food items (food articles and food products) surged to double-digit level of 11.3% in July 2016 from 8.2% in June 2016. Meanwhile, inflation of non-food items (all commodities excluding food items) moved up to 0.1% in July 2016 from (-) 1.3% in June 2016.

Core inflation (manufactured products excluding foods products) rose to 0.1% in July 2016, from (-) 0.4% in June 2016.

The contribution of primary articles to the overall inflation, at 3.55%, was 262 basis points (bps) in July 2016 compared with 154 bps in June 2016. The contribution of manufactured products was 102 bps compared with 65 bps, while that of fuel product group was (-) 16 bps against (-) 58 bps in June 2016.

The contribution of food items (food articles and food products) to inflation rose to 342 bps in 3.55% in July 2016 compared with 249 bps to 1.62% in June 2016. Meanwhile, the contribution of non-food items (all commodities excluding food items) was 08 bps in July 2016 compared with (-) 89 bps in June 2016.

As per the revised data, the inflation figure for May 2016 was revised up to 1.2% compared with 0.8% reported provisionally.

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Fitch Affirms Indian Bank at BB+; Withdraws All Ratings
Aug 16,2016

Fitch Ratings has today affirmed and withdrawn the ratings of Indian Bank. Fitch has chosen to withdraw the ratings of Indian Bank for commercial reasons. A full list of rating actions is at the end of this rating action commentary.


There has been no material change in Indian Banks credit profile since the previous rating actions on 5 July 2016. For more information on the rating drivers, please see Fitch Affirms 9 Indian Banks IDRs; Downgrades VRs of Canara, IDBI and Indian Bank - Ratings Navigator.


Rating sensitivities are not applicable as the ratings have been withdrawn.

Fitch has affirmed and withdrawn the following ratings:

-- Long-Term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at BB+; Outlook Stable;

-- Short-Term IDR at B

-- Viability Rating at bb+

-- Support Rating at 3

-- Support Rating Floor at BB+

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Fitch: First Indian Bank Coupon Skip Shows Capital Pressure
Aug 16,2016

Dhanlaxmi Banks failure to pay a coupon on a subordinated debt instrument in July 2016 highlights the increased risk to bank capital investors from the mounting asset-quality and capital-adequacy pressures on Indias banking sector, says Fitch Ratings.

This is the first time investors in India have had to forgo interest on a bank capital instrument. We view this as a positive development for a system with a high expectation of support for banks and where moral hazard has developed around the assumption that support could be extended to regulatory capital instruments.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) can prohibit banks from paying coupons on subordinated debt instruments if capital adequacy ratios fall below the minimum requirements. It raised these to 9.625% in April 2016 from 9%, exposing creditors to risks at banks with tight capital ratios. The RBI is progressively pushing minimum capital requirements higher to meet Basel III capital requirements, and will reach 11.5% by end-March 2019. Systemically important banks will have a higher threshold of an additional 0.2%-0.6%.

Market concerns about bank capital have increased because of the RBI-imposed asset-quality review, which uncovered higher non-performing loans, triggering first-time losses at some banks. This limits banks ability to generate new capital internally and makes it more difficult for them to access new sources of capital from the market.

We believe Indian banks will need to raise an additional USD90bn of capital by 2019 if they are to meet minimum capital adequacy requirements. As long as potential capital shortfalls persist, creditors will remain exposed to high non-performance risk, which will affect banks market access to new capital. This is likely to put pressure on the government to inject additional capital into the banks, over and above what it has budgeted so far.

Capital ratios are particularly thin at the state-owned banks, which represent around 75% of sector assets in India.

The RBI appears to be making a distinction between banks that have new capital lined up (which so far have been public-sector banks) in decisions about the performance of regulatory capital instruments. Where capital ratios fell below, or very near to, regulatory minimum requirements, public-sector banks have received capital injections from the government and were able to make coupon payments on regulatory capital instruments.

This was the case in 2014 at United Bank of India, and more recently at UCO Bank and Indian Overseas Bank. But Dhanlaxmi Bank is a privately owned, small regional bank that was unable to attract new capital from its shareholders. State support appears not to be on offer, and therefore creditors are more exposed to non-performance if there are capital pressures.

Sovereign support remains a relevant ratings factor for us, particularly for the large state-owned banks and systemically important private-sector banks.

We think asset-quality indicators are close to their weakest point, but expect bank earnings to remain weak at least for the next 12-18 months. Capital ratios will continue to show signs of strain over the short to medium term, and banks will remain under pressure to raise additional funds. Until they do, risks for creditors will remain high.

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RBIs Surplus Transfer to Mitigate Liquidity Impact of Pay Commission Arrears
Aug 16,2016

The outgo due to a hike in salaries and pensions, in line with the Seventh Central Pay Commissions (7CPC) recommendations, is unlikely to cause significant systemic liquidity disruptions, says India Ratings and Research. The agency estimates the combined outgo for the center on account of arrears for January to July and payments for August will total to INR346bn.

The banking system liquidity will experience transient frictional tightness ahead of the payment of arrears. The government is likely to go slow on spending as it gears up to meet lumpy payments (other than regular payments). Temporal adjustments notwithstanding, the overall liquidity conditions will be cushioned as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will transfer its profit to the government of India.

The INR68bn deficit arising post the redemption of bonds and payment of arrears can be met through multiple modes (i) existing cash balance with the government (INR82.49bn on 11 August 2016) and (ii) drawing down of ways-and-means-advances to tide over this mismatch. Over August-December 2016, a seasonal surge in currency in circulation and outflows on account of FCNR B (foreign currency non-resident) deposits redemption could aggravate the liquidity position. The agency believes that RBI, at its end, will support the systemic liquidity through proactive management.

Interbank liquidity slipped back into deficit mode this month, after broadly staying in surplus in July. Core liquidity surplus averaged INR120bn in July, which has slipped into deficit as payments for G-sec auction, state loan auctions, and monthly indirect tax outflows drained the system. The RBI is already front-loading liquidity provision, to move closer to its objective of bringing the ex-ante liquidity deficit close to neutrality and has already infused structural liquidity of INR905bn this fiscal. Consequently, any temporary liquidity pressure is likely to elicit a response from the RBI in the form of injection of durable liquidity through open market operations. Front-loaded liquidity infusions through open market operations will keep money market rates anchored around the policy rates.

Out of the INR1.02trn gross impact of 7CPC on the exchequer, the budget has made a provision to the extent of INR933.25bn. Any shortfall arising out of the arrears payment is likely to be marginal and will not significantly affect the countrys fiscal position.

With the recommendations of the 7CPC approved by the Union Cabinet approved earlier in June, the government demonstrated its intent to clear the arrears due before end-August 2016. The proposal for hikes in allowances has been deferred and will be taken up by a committee later. The agency, therefore, has not considered this while calculating the arrears.

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398 Villages Electrified Last Week ; 10,051 Villages Electrified till date under DDUGJY
Aug 16,2016

398 villages have been electrified across the country during last week (from 8thto 14th August 2016) under Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojna (DDUGJY). Out of these electrified villages, 2 villages belong to Arunachal Pradesh, 60 to Assam, 28to Bihar, 11 to Chhattisgarh, 91 to Jharkhand, 28 to Madhya Pradesh, 11 to Manipur, 36to Meghalaya, 67 to Odisha , 18to Rajasthan, 32 to Uttar Pradesh and4 each to Himachal Pradesh, Mizoram & Nagaland and 1 each to Jammu & Kashmir and Uttarakhand.

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Kharif Crop Sowing Crosses 954 Lakh Hectare Area
Aug 16,2016

The total sown area as on 12th August, 2016 as per reports received from States, stands at 954.18 lakh hectare as compared to 895.91 lakh hectare at this time last year.

It is reported that rice has been sown/transplanted in 326.08 lakh ha, pulses in 130.17 lakh ha, coarse cereals in 173.56 lakh ha, oilseeds in 172.25 lakh ha, sugarcane in 45.54 lakh hectare and cotton in 99.03 lakh ha.

The details of the area covered so far and that covered during this time last year are given below:

 Lakh hectare 

CropArea sown in 2016-17Area sown in 2015-16Rice326.08304.71Pulses130.1797.70Coarse Cereals173.56163.75Oilseeds172.25163.84Sugarcane45.5449.51Jute & Mesta7.567.73Cotton99.03108.67Total954.18895.91

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Role of Private Sector and State Governments in Development of Food Parks
Aug 16,2016

Ministry is implementing Mega Food Park (MFP) Scheme to create modern infrastructure for food processing. The Mega Food Parks may be set up by private promoters as well as State Government / its entities / cooperatives.

Under the MFP Scheme, financial assistance is provided as grants-in-aid @50% of the eligible project cost in general areas and 75% of eligible project cost in difficult and hilly areas i.e. North East Region including Sikkim, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Integrated Tribal Development Projects (ITDP) notified areas of the States subject to a maximum Rs. 50.00 crore per project.

Under the guidelines of the MFP Scheme, an important role has been envisaged of the State Government in implementation of the projects, as under:-

i. Providing assistance to Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) in procurement/purchase of suitable land.

ii.Providing all the requisite statutory clearances including permission for sub-leasing of land by SPV, wherever needed, for setting up the MFP and its components thereof and providing the necessary assistance for Power, Water, roads and other external infrastructure to the project

iii. Providing flexible and conducive labour environment and consider special facilities like exemption of stamp duty, VAT/Sales Tax exemption etc. for the MFP and the units located in the MFP.

iv. Monitor the implementation of project.

v. Nominates a suitable officer to be appointed as Ministrys nominee Director in the SPV.

vi. Providing a fast track single window agency to facilitate clearances and permissions required for the project.

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Premature Closure of PPF Account in extreme circumstances
Aug 16,2016

The Government allows premature closure of the PPF account in extreme circumstances like life threatening disease treatment or for childrens higher education

The PPF account can be closed prematurely after completion of five financial years for the treatment of serious ailments or life threatening diseases of the accountholder, spouse or dependent children or parents and for higher education of the account holder or the minor account holder. Such premature closure of PPF accounts hall be subject to deduction of such amount which shall be equivalent to one percent less interest on the interest rates as applicable from time to time. Further, the Government is empowered to relax rules in exceptional circumstances.

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Cut-off Date for PMFBY in Bihar Extends till 31st August, 2016
Aug 16,2016

Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Shri Radha Mohan Singh has approved to extend the cut-off date for applying for Pradha Mantri Fasal Beema Yojna till 31st August, 2016 for Bihar. The farmers can apply for the scheme and Banks can take the premium under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Beema Yojna in Bihar up to extended date.

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Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare asked State Governments to Come up with Proposals to Upscale Rural Backyard Poultry Development under NLM
Aug 16,2016

The Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying & Fisheries, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare has asked to the State Governments especially Andhra Pradesh and Bihar to come up with proposals wherein they may like to upscale the Rural Backyard Poultry Development program under NLM with 150 birds distribution to be done in a focussed manner in 5-6 contiguous villages/ cluster in one block of one district of the State The Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying & Fisheries will focus more towards entrepreneurial activity in poultry sector. These steps have been discussed in a meeting to discuss Poultry Development Schemes under the Chairmanship of Secretary, Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying & Fisheries (DADF), Shri Devendra Chaudhry.

The meeting discussed about the present status of schemes being implemented by DADF, Poultry development schemes implemented by selected States for the small and marginal farmers and look forward to sustainable projects for them.

It was also decided that commercial broilers may also be considered in rural areas, for which, PFI, AIPBA, NECC may consider making proposals with SHGs/ Cooperatives and Farmers Producers Organization to be submitted to NABARD and NCDC for direct funding under their respective schemes.

The meeting was attended by States viz. Bihar, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, who are implementing both Rural Backyard Poultry Development (RBPD) and Entrepreneurship Development and Employment Generation- Poultry Venture Capital Fund (EDEG-PVCF) programs under National Livestock Mission. Convergence with NCDC (Funding for Poultry Cooperatives) and NABARD schemes (Producers Organization Development Fund and Rural Infrastructure Development Funds) were also be discussed. Director, RKVY is also invited to give valuable inputs on a focussed approach. NGO PRADAN and JEEViKA Society (NRLM), Bihar shared their experiences with various models ranging from desi birds, low-input technology birds and broilers in a cooperative / Self-Help Group set-up. Private sector participants from Poultry Federation of India (PFI), National Egg Coordination Committee (NECC) and All India Poultry Breeders Association (AIPBA)s views were also taken.

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