Friday, October 10, 2014

When smallholders link themselves to market : the Kaushalya foundation story

One of the first organization I visited during my recent trip in India was Kaushalya Foundation. The first thing that really strikes you when you pass the door of this NGO, is the high amount of women working there, also in leader position.
The ILRI team with the the Kaushalya Foundation team
Kaushalya Foundation supports the creation of social enterprises, mainly trying to enable farmers to link themselves to market. To do so they enable farmers to create the so-called farmer-producer companies for vegetables, a sort of marketing company owned by farmer through which they are making bulk sales to buyers. These farmer-producer companies are separately registered companies. Each farmer-producer company also host business hub. 

The business hub explained with a mock-up
A business hub brings together all types of  services. Through this business hub, high quality seed, livestock feed, advisory services (for example on soil quality or weather forecast) to rural areas which critically lack access to these high quality services. Also theses hub offer training to groups landless women to produce farm input such as treated seeds or fertilizer or natural pesticides. Theses products are then sold through the business hub.

To enable the vegetable value chain, Kaushalya foundation is also behind some innovation. They have developed a low cost green house for vegetables. Also they have revolutionized the sales of vegetables. They have a network of vegetables carts with a new design that keeps vegetables fresh for longer. Their carts sell packaged vegetables at fixed prices, making transaction between sellers and consumer easy and quick.

The vegetable cart
Many of these technologies have been promoted by the government in other states.
Next to all these activities Kaushalya foundation organizes farmer interest groups through which they organize training, field demonstration and advice, including a software that automatically translate results from a soil test into operational advice to manage the fields.

Kaushalya foundation is behind two business hubs in Bihar, namely in Patna and in Nalanda and focus mainly on vegetable production. Nalanda is a place where the milk value chain is not yet very well organized and therefore this farmer producer company could play a key role in organizing farmers not only around vegetable but also livestock production and especially milk.

visiting one of the farmer-producer company

I was very impressed by this farmer-producer concept, and learned one important thing : the success story here is linking the right technology to the right institutions, focusing only one of the two would probably not lead to such an impressive result. A model to export to Africa?

1 comment:

  1. A good idea - driven by perseverance and fueled by innovation - is worth emulating.