Smallholder farmers in Jharkhand come together to ensure safe food for a fair price

Smallholder farmers in Jharkhand come together to ensure safe food for a fair price

Story by : Bhoomi Ka Team
Written on : 27th July, 2020

Over the years, Bhoomi Ka has been working to promote safe and indigenous food among farmers and consumers in India. And to achieve its objective, it was imperative for smallholder farmers to come together, get trained on ecological farming and certification processes, and meet the growing demand of organic produce. With rising consumer demand of organic and safe food, which could not be met by individual farmers, the need for a Famer Producer Organisation (FPO) emerged.

In 2016, under Bhoomi Ka Safe Food Program in Jharkhand, efforts were initiated which led to the formation of Ajivika Bhoomi Ka Producer Company Ltd. – one of the firsts Farmer Producer Organisation supported by Bhoomi Ka.

Farmer Producer Organisation (FPO)

FPO is a unique group of smallholder farmers and producers which deals with business activities related to the produce to ensure fair price to both farmers and consumers. Ajivika is one such FPO that is involved in safe food procurement, primary processing, and marketing of eco-certified products.   

However, Bhoomi Ka’s journey to form an FPO wasn’t easy and encountered several challenges. During the first year in 2016, focus was laid on identifying farmers and providing them further training on ecological farming and PGS certification processes. Ensuring correct documentation of the farmers/Board of Directors to complete the registration process was the first hurdle. Additionally, farmers were not acquainted with the concept of FPO. And the idea of coming together to become members of a new supply chain ecosystem called for trust building interactions with the farmers. Bhoomi Ka’s partners explained the framework of running a profit-making self-reliant system to the farmers. Persistent efforts, hope and confidence were to be instilled in the farmers.

Successful women farmers in Jharkhand supported by Bhoomi Ka. (Photo credit: Arijit Sen)

Ajivika Bhoomi Ka Producer Company Ltd

With consistent efforts undertaken by Bhoomi Ka’s partner Centre for World Solidarity (CWS) with support from Welthungerhilfe in Jharkhand led to the formation of Ajivika Bhoomi Ka Producer Company Ltd (ABPC). ABPC is a smallholder farmers’ producer group company working with the goal to promote safe food products, produced by eliminating usage of toxic chemicals at any point of food supply chain. The formation of ABPCL FPO also ensured sustainable livelihood and better income for the smallholder’s farmers in the region.

“I was only a farmer who used to sell produces in the local market. With support and training received from CWS on how to run my own business, I am now getting buyers for my products at my doorstep. Bhoomi Ka helped me to get premium prices of my products by connecting me with the FPO”, shares Dugi Mardi, an FPO member.

ABPCL FPO worked towards empowering the smallholder farmers of Ranchi mainly from Rajnagar block – Saraikela Kharsawan district, Angara block, and some villages in Namkum Tehsil and in Ghatsila block who were struggling to meet their nutrition and income security and did not have access to market. With the coming of the FPO, these farmers are now setting examples for others.

ABPCL FPO is procuring grains from farmers certified under the Participatory Guarantee System (PGS), an organic certification system recognised by Government of India. The farmers also do processing and value addition at a common facility centre (CFC) with women members of the groups. The FPO then aggregates, processes and supplies products to retail outlets in local market as well as outlets in Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Patna, Delhi and Kolkata. Product basket contains various pulses, oilseeds, rice, millets, roselle etc. The FPO is currently managed by 11 Board of Directors and created job for 15 women in the processing unit.

Dayamanti Savaiya, Director of Ajivika FPO Ltd.

“Ajivika FPO has given me medium to learn, grow and earn. I feel empowered and honoured to be able to run a business for farmers as a Director at ABPC Ltd. I feel more confident and am constantly improving my leadership skills”, says Dayamanti Savaiya, FPO Director who is also a smallholder farmer. ABPCL has its own FSSAI registration for its processing and packaging unit now. Meeting up the administrative and legal requirements is still a challenge, but they are learning fast.

Anil Kumar, PGS farmer and an FPO member.

With an initial turnover of INR 50,000/- ABPC’s turnover in 2019-20 reached to approximately INR 10,00,000/- which is giving a new ray of hope to the farmers in Jharkhand. “I was a progressive farmer but with Bhoomi ka, I become a master trainer. I travelled to various villages in Jharkhand and trained other farmers on PGS and organic farming. Earlier I was only a trainer but now with the help from Bhoomi Ka and CWS, I am also an entrepreneur and a trainer”, shares Anil Kujur, a PGS farmer and FPO member.