Mumbai,27th December 2023: The Mahalaxmi Saras 2023-24, a celebration of India’s rich cultural heritage, opened its doors on December 26th at MMRDA Ground, Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) in Mumbai. The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) is supporting many artisans across the country to market their merchandise at the event.

Shri Girish Mahajan, Minister of Rural Development & Panchayat Raj of Maharashtra, inaugurated the much-awaited event in the presence of distinguished guests, including Representatives of MSRLM, Shri Ruchesh Jaivanshi, CEO, MSRLM, Shri Parmeshwar Raut,COO, MSRLM, and Shri Raymond D’Souza, CGM, NABARD.

Organized annually since 2006 by the Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India, and the Department of Rural Development, Government of Maharashtra, in collaboration with the UMED-Maharashtra State Rural Livelihood Mission (MSRLM), the Mahalakshmi Saras Mela serves as a vital platform for Self Help Groups (SHGs), craftspeople, artisans, farmers, and other stakeholders to showcase their products and connect with urban consumers.

“Mahalaxmi Saras Mela exemplifies our commitment to empowering rural artisans. We are proud to be associated with an event that not only provides a marketplace for artisans but also fosters a deeper understanding of India’s rich cultural heritage. Through initiatives like these, we aim to bridge the gap between rural artisans and urban consumers, creating sustainable livelihoods and preserving our diverse traditions,” said Shri Shaji K.V., Chairman, NABARD.

“Each NABARD supported stall tells a story of our artisans and their efforts in producing beautiful handlooms and handicrafts. NABARD shall continue to provide pathbreaking interventions for rural artisans and farmers and provision of 49 stalls to them in SARAS mela is one such example. The participants in SARAS would inspire many other rural inhabitants to come forward and market their products in urban areas.” said Shri Raymond D’Souza, CGM, NABARD.

This year’s event boasts over 500 stalls featuring a diverse array of products from across India. Notably, NABARD has contributed to the mela’s unique offerings, supporting 49 stalls of artisans from across the country. These stalls are showcasing products like Assamese Gamocha, Pochampally sarees, Banarasi sarees, Tangliya products, etc. The apex agriculture bank will be helping approximately 100 rural artisans from Self Help Groups (SHGs), Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs), and Off-Farm Producer Organisations (OFPOs) to exhibit their products. The NABARD-assisted artisan group will be exhibiting 13 Geographical Indication (GI) certified products.

Recognising the need to protect dying arts and crafts in rural areas, NABARD has been at the forefront, supporting rural artisans, weavers, farmers, and craftsmen by providing financial assistance, skilling, market linkages, and infrastructure facilities. As part of its initiatives, NABARD has been a consistent supporter of the SARAS Mela for the 2023-24 edition too. Highlighting the importance of GI-tagged products, NABARD ensures that only creative and innovative products make it to the mela, enriching urban consumers on the diversity and uniqueness of these offerings.

Many rural artisans lack access to urban markets; the SARAS Mela provides crucial exposure. The platform enables artisans to understand urban market preferences, fostering adaptability. Artisans can negotiate better prices and explore opportunities for bulk/corporate orders. NABARD’s association provides a unique platform for rural artisans to increase income, build brands, and gain recognition among urban consumers.

The exhibition will conclude on January 7th, 2024. Attendees can visit the stalls between 10 am – 10 pm on all days till then.