Institutes of higher education train Indian farmers on sustainable business

Renowned institutes of education, research and governance in India have joined Solidaridad in providing small farmers with the skills they need to succeed. Solidaridad’s “Farmer Producer Organization” approach is effective in helping integrate farmers within the value chain while creating a level playing field for them to do business. Creating viable business cases and market solutions derived from B2B models with strong participation from all sectors are the key pillars of Solidaridad’s intervention strategy.

Learning with local leaders

A five-day residential training and capacity building programme “Agribusiness Opportunities for Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) and Rural Enterprises” was jointly organized by Solidaridad and Jawaharlal Nehru Krishi Vishwa Vidyalaya, a leading agriculture university in Central India, from 9 to 13 September, at Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, India.

This training was a part of an educational series organized to strengthen capacities of Farmer Producer Organizations and Rural Entrepreneurs for efficient delivery of services, quality inputs and access to markets and infrastructure facilities. The training programme is supported by Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojna, Farmers Welfare and Agriculture Department, Government of Madhya Pradesh.

Training from top teachers

During the training programme, various sessions were held on subjects like e-marketing platforms, business opportunities, organic farming, seed production, new seed varieties of different crops, ongoing government schemes for farmers / Farmer Producer Organizations and crop insurance. The participants also had the opportunity to learn new aspects of sustainable agriculture.

Field visits were conducted for the participants in the Borlaug Institute for South Asia, an international research institute dedicated to food, nutrition and livelihood security as well as environmental rehabilitation. The Borlaug Institute is a collaborative effort involving the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center and the Indian Council for Agricultural Research. The programme concluded with an interactive session with the participants on their learning experiences followed by the distribution of certificates by the Dean of Jawaharlal Nehru Krishi Vishwa Vidyalaya.

Pointing out the problem

Agricultural inputs, access to credit, infrastructure, market linkages and related services are the basic requirements smallholder farmers need to succeed. However, agriculture in India is mostly fragmented and unorganized. Limited investment capacity of small farms is also an area of great concern. This reduces their profit margin, making the farming business, in most cases, a non-viable one. A situation has arisen in which farmers are faced with ever increasing prices for agricultural inputs while the profit margin of farms are not increasing proportionately, leading to a crisis where the small farms struggle to survive.

Solutions for small farmers

Solidaridad is promoting market-based solutions to enhance the efficiency, viability and profitability of smallholders. Rural businesses led by Farmer Producer Organizations are potentially able to leverage collective strength and bargaining power to access inputs, services and appropriate technologies as well as reduce transaction costs, tap market potentials and enter into partnership with private entities/businesses on more equitable terms.

To support the FPOs, Solidaridad provides knowledge and experience for better business planning, and managing legal compliances and commercial operations. A Farmer Producer Organization Leaders Forum is formed for addressing different sustainability aspects and governance issues of the FPOs. Through this leadership forum, Solidaridad seeks to create a strong network and platform to sustain and improve Farmer Producer Organizations. The business leaders also receive training from Solidaridad on technical skills for managing operations and leverage business opportunities. In addition, the combination of these efforts provides a sustainable channel for businesses to directly engage with farmers.

The future of farming

The Farmer Producer Organizations offer an efficient and effective pathway to successfully deal with a range of challenges faced by smallholders. The results of this approach should lead to the long-term sustainability of small farms, encourage and attract rural youths to enter agriculture as a profession, and could significantly enhance sustainability across supply chain functions for the region.

Learn more about Solidaridad programmes in South & South-East Asia