Around 75% of farmers in India fall in category of small & marginal farmers i.e. with small land holding, facing problems like crop selection based on soil type, quality inputs, technological and information unavailability of appropriate farm practices, credit unavailability and most important challenge is the marketing of the produce. The present mechanism to help farmers, mainly through government agencies has failed to a great extent in addressing these problems leading to increased migration and suicides of Indian farmers.
To address the problem of small and marginal farmers in an effective way, Shashank Kumar, IIT Delhi Graduate and Manish Kumar, IIT Kharagpur graduate came up with FarmsnFarmers in 2010. The central idea of providing end to end services as that of crop selection to marketing was at the core of their initiative. With a humble start of operations with 18 farmers of Vishali district in Bihar, it has now scaled upit’s operations to 7 districts improving the lives of more than 5,000 farmers. FnF has been successful in increasing annual profit of farmers drastically.In recognition of their work it has been presented with numerous awards.Theyhave also been awarded by Bihar government with ‘Entrepreneur of the year 2011-2012’, presented by Mr. Nitish Kumar, CM, Bihar.FnF’s story has been covered by CNN IBN, Business Outlook, Forbes India and others. Various articles with title of the likes, ‘Graduates from IITs take up Bihar Farmer’s Cause’ and ‘Young graduates shun MNCs, treading farmer’s path’ have came upon from time to time.
Inception: FnFteam together with farmers decides the action plan every season.
Farm Testing : Specialized R&D team conducts soil testing and based on climatic conditions suggests the possibilities of crop and variety.
Crop Finalization : Based on R&D and market analysis appropriate crop to be cultivated is suggested.
Allocation Of Government Support: FnF extends resources and training committed by the government to farmers. FnF has been working in collaboration with NABARD and KVKs (KrishiVigyan Kendra set up in every district by ICAR – Indian Council of Agricultural Research) for the same. Assistance to farmers in process of acquiring credit.
Monitoring Of Process: It is ensured that appropriate processes are used to achieve high yield.
Access to market: The product is then taken right from farm to end use buyer for maximum profit.
Local Empowerment – The DeHaat Model :
under DeHaat model, local centers are formed in villages, run by micro-entrepreneurs trained and guided by FnF. DeHaat works on franchise model in which the trained entrepreneur is owner of the center. Each center is point of contact of village and all activities of FnF are carried out through them. At present 8 such centres are in working condition.
Innovation – The solution:
FnF in collaboration with IIT Kharagpur, Rajendra Agriculture University (Pusa), Birsa Agriculture University (Ranchi), and BAMETI (Patna) has taken up different innovative projects to achieve overall socio-economic development of marginal farmers. FnF is working on modification of the banana extraction machine along with RuTAG and IIT Kharagpur to simplify extraction process.
FnF has endeavored to popularize the concepts of organic and community farming, cultivation of herbal drugs with high demand like Artemisia, Annua and Mentha, growing castor seeds in barren lands and methods to collect and processhoney which is marketed under their own brand ‘Nectar Honey’.Rajma Introduction has been one of the biggest success stories. Farmers were suggested to cultivate Rajma which increased their gains by more than 50% (minimum) relative to other traditional crops they grew.
Interaction with Team SocioVigil.in
Sociovigil team interacted with Mr. Manish Kumar, cofounder of FnF. Following are excerpts.
The Journey so-far:
As can be imagined, the start was indeed difficult. Problems regarding financial unavailability to the ridicule by society, from disappointment of near and dear ones to lack of acceptance among farmer community were all faced. But courage and conviction over oneself and a noble cause is what kept them from giving up.Manishji himself hails from a middle class family but he was confident that he would not only earn his livelihood but will help thousands others to earn their livelihood as well. NABARD (National Rural Bank) was the first to come forward to help in short span of 6 month despite NABARD’s policy to financially assist institutes atleast 2 years old.
Eventually all these problems seemed small and they started working on the “big dream of making farmers smile”. He acknowledges that IIT Alumni Tag works a lot, helping you win recognition quickly. In the course of time many committed people from IIM-A, BITS Pilani and other prestigious colleges have joined forming a dedicated team of 8 members. The DeHaat micro-entrepreneurs are the supporting pillars of FnF.
Looking at the brightness in his eyes one can easily deduce that his hard choice of turning down IBM at campus recruitment was wise. He quotes,” Many of my friends perusing P.HDs in foreign countries call me to applaud and express their wish to visit our work. On the contrary I never wish to witness their work. It’s simple, I feel much more content giving back to the society from which I have come.”
FnF is expanding in other states with a panoramicvision to work till each and every marginal farmer of India is able to make his occupation sustainable. To accomplish this herculean task technology is playing a major role. Different ICT solutions like message service, Use of GPS technology, Innovation in supply chain are few of the things being worked upon.And with work comes recognition. FnF has been winning numerous awards and B-Plan competitions. Currently it’s making a way in Times Now’s Amazing Indians, Bihar Innovation Forum and others.
There’s a large untapped potential in social entrepreneurship in all sectors like Agriculture,Health, Education etc. Reiterating Swami Vivekanada’s words, he stresses that take up any one social cause and give your entire life to it, dream of it, live it. Success is bound to come and the satisfaction which comes with it is overwhelming. For this to happen, one should first be acquainted with prevailing problems of the society. Ground reality is quite different than what is deduced sitting in room, hence exposure is very important. Whenever you get chance, visit different places, have interaction, communicate with people from different background. It will eventually make one wiser and simpler gaining widespread acceptance.
Manish is a vivid reader of Swami Vivekananda and strongly advocates that every one of us should study his literary works and his life.