New Delhi: The Commerce Ministry’s public procurement portal GeM on Monday said it has started an initiative — The Saras Collection — for rural self-help groups (SHGs), wherein they can display their products on the platform for government buyers. Under this initiative, SHGs will be able to list their products on the Government e-Marketplace (GeM) in five categories — handicrafts; handloom and textiles; office accessories; grocery and pantry, and personal care and hygiene.

In the first phase, 913 SHGs from 11 states have already registered as sellers and 403 products have been onboarded, GeM said in a statement.

“A unique initiative of GeM and the Deen Dayal Antyodaya Yojana-NRLM, the Saras Collection would showcase daily utility products made by rural self-help groups and aims to provide SHGs in rural areas with market access to government buyers,” it said.

To develop a scalable model capable of onboarding a large number of SHGs across the country in a short time frame, GeM has developed an API (application programming interface) based integration mechanism with the NRLM (National Rural Livelihoods Mission) database, it said.

The onboarding of SHGs under the initiative has been initially piloted in the states of Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.

“The coverage shall be rapidly extended to enable a large number of SHGs from all the states/Union Territories to sell their products to government buyers. Potential buyers shall be able to search, view, cart and procure such products through the stipulated modes of procurement,” it added.

In order to handhold and facilitate SHGs in uploading their products, GeM is assisting with product catalogue management, order fulfilment and bid participation.

Further, government buyers will also be sensitized through system generated messages/alerts in the marketplace about availability of SHG products on the portal.

Direct access to government buyers will do away with intermediaries in the supply chain, and ensure better prices for SHGs.

Rural Development and Panchayati Raj and Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Minister Narendra Singh Tomar launched the initiative on Monday.

GeM is a 100 per cent government owned firm which was set up as the National Public Procurement Portal for procurement of goods and services required by central and state government organizations.

Government departments, ministries, public sector units, state governments, and Central Armed Police Forces are allowed to carry out transactions through this portal.

The government has made it mandatory for all the departments and ministries to source goods and services from the e-marketplace.

The portal provides a wide range of products from office stationery to vehicles.

Automobiles, computers and office furniture are currently the top product categories. Services, including transportation, logistics, waste management, web casting, are also listed on the portal.

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