Triple Crop Value Chains

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This model is being carried out for PACS in the Mandla and Dhindori districts of Madhya Pradesh and the Bilaspur district of Chhattisgarh by Ekgaon Technologies. It focuses on 10,000 small and marginalised farmers.

Project summary

This model involves:

Project context

Indian farm productivity is amongst the lowest in the world. This is due to many reasons including poor access to irrigation, depletion of soil nutrients and a lack of agricultural knowledge, such as information about when or what to plant.

70% of all Indian farmers cultivate less than one hectare of land. With such small areas of land, it is hard to make a living. In addition, most farmers only grow one crop because they do not have the money, knowledge or access to market information that would allow them to diversify. This leaves small farmers in a very vulnerable position, at risk of complete crop failure if rains are poor or if the crop is attacked by pests.

In the project areas there is therefore a great need to increase the productivity of agriculture, which remains the primary occupation of the population, whilst also diversifying livelihood opportunities.

From one crop to three

Under the project, farmers are taught how to grow three types of crops. Rice or millets are grown for food security

The other two are cash crops - gram and linseed – which can be sold at markets for a much higher price. These cash crops have been chosen because they tend to withstand market fluctuations, providing farmers with income security.

Ekgaon’s farm demonstration plots allow practical, hands-on training, so farmers can understand how to grow these new crops.

Production clusters

The smallholder farmers are supported to organise themselves into producer organisation clusters - one per district. In their production clusters, they have monthly farmers meetings.

At these meetings they receive training from Ekgaon on agri-practices and are provided with support to mobilise themselves, as a group, to access farm equipment and inputs (such as fertilisers or pesticides) which can be used and shared between them.

Together they are also able to pool their crop harvests, giving them much stronger collective bargaining power at market. In time, it is planned to support the production clusters to become formal producer-owned companies or cooperatives.

An accessible information framework

When farmers become part of the project, Ekgaon captures various details from them such as the location of their land, the crops they’re growing and the soil type. Through Ekgaon's “One Farm” technology platform, the farmers are then sent regular information updates, via text message, based on their individual details.

The information the farmers receive includes weather forecasts, crop nutrient information and disease and pest updates. This data provides support to them so they can plan when it is best to plant and harvest, thereby increasing yields. It also allows them to understand how best to safeguard plants from bugs and diseases, thereby protecting their crop.

The text messages are written in each farmer’s local language (another detail that is captured upon registration) and, if they cannot read, the information is also available by phoning in.

Marketing support

The farmers are also provided with market information via text message. Crop prices are sourced from the Multi Commodity Exchange and the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee who specialise in crop trading and market prices.

When farmers have harvested their crops, they have access to a secure warehouse where they can deposit their produce. Farmers are given a receipt, documenting how much they have deposited. This storage facility allows each production cluster to build up the total amount they have to sell. It also means that they are able to store it safely, knowing it will not be damaged, so they can sell it at the best price.

To provide additional support, Ekgaon are planning to link the production clusters up to the Farmer Producers Organisation (FPO) programme run by SFAC (Small Farmers Agri-Business Consortium) – an initiative of the government’s Department of Agriculture.

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