In a significant measure to promote Self-Help Groups (SHGs), Ministry of Railways through its PSU Indian Railway Catering & Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has roped in Self-Help Groups (SHGs) in making regional cuisine products produced by such groups available to travelling passengers on e-catering service platform of IRCTC. IRCTC in association with National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has joined hands with SHGs formed by MAVIM – Mahila Arthik Vikas Mahamandal, and Lupin Human Welfare Research Foundation in the Konkan region to bring the delectable Konkani cuisine right on the seat of a train passenger through its e-catering service popularly known as “Food on Track”. This pilot project was launched by Railway Minister Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu at Sawantwadi Road Station of the Konkan Railway in Sindhudurg District of Maharashtra today i.e. on 3rd of December, 2016. This step is in line with the Budget Announcement of the Union Railway Minister Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu wherein it was stated that Railways will promote products made by Self Help Groups, consisting mainly of women and youth. This will not only provide an enriched variety of local homemade foods to the passengers but will help generate local employment, empower women and ensure inclusive growth. The move will also support persons from weaker sections in a big way.
The partnership with NABARD to provide support and access to the IRCTC website would ensure extensive e- marketing for products produced by the SHGs would lead to increase in rural incomes.
The empanelled SHGs will be displayed on e-catering website http://www.ecatering.irctc.co.in. with their menu and prices. Passenger may choose meal or food items offered by SHGs and place the order. This will help in sustainable development of SHGs.
The local cuisines produced by SHGs will be in addition to the other food choices made available on e-catering system by popular food aggregators like Dominos, Haldiram, KFC and Sarvana Bhavan to expand the culinary choices of travelling passengers.
This step also assumes significance as it integrates the rural population with cashless transaction system through e-catering service where the payment to these SHGs for the services provided will be directly credited to their accounts through online payments. This is not only a passenger friendly measure by leveraging technology but would bring SHGs under the ambit of Digital India Programme of the Govt. of India.
IRCTC is also planning to collaborate with NABARD for setting up a similar project for involving SHGs in e-catering in Barabanki (Uttar Pradesh). The project is slated to become functional in January 2017.
Under the e-catering system, passengers can make payment for their meal orders online and they don’t have to carry loads of hard cash. They can make payment through their credit/debit cards as well as e-wallets like Mobikwik and Paytm. The online meal booking is also available through Android and iOS-based applications that can be downloaded on any smart phone.
Ministry of Women & Child Development and NABARD have also agreed to work with IRCTC with a view to facilitate installation and operation of Water Vending Machines (WVMs) with the help of Self Help Groups over various D, E & F category Railway stations.