The Grameen Foundation announced on Friday, September 22, that it will support smallholder farmers by launching the second phase of market access through the Digital Innovation in India (MANDI) project, made possible by a $2 million grant from the Walmart Foundation. will Mandi-II aims to address the challenges faced by smallholder farmers, especially women, in East Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal by enhancing the capacity of Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs).
During the first phase of the Mandi project, which is also supported by the Walmart Foundation, the Grameen Foundation helped build the capacity of 40 FPOs in eastern Uttar Pradesh by facilitating market linkages, finance, data and technology. Access was provided and increased shareholder participation, particularly of women. Among the achievements of Mandi Phase I as stated by Grameen:
- Gender Mainstreaming: More than 8,300 women were inducted as new members in FPOs; 18 out of 40 FPOs now have at least 40% women membership, up from 12.5% at baseline. A total of 142 Self-Help Groups (SHGs) have been linked with 25 FPOs, resulting in the establishment of value chains comprising different genres, such as moringa, chillies, medicinal plants such as aloe vera, and dairy as well as production chains. I have come Vegetables such as sweet flesh from bottle gourds, and alternatively vermicompost, an organic fertilizer.
- Application of Agricultural Technology: About 9,600 farmers benefited from 14 agricultural technologies adopted by the FPO. These technologies include digital, climate-smart, and women-friendly solutions such as RWCM, Rice Doctor, Rice Expert, Wonder Pipes, Doublers, Cono-Wedders, Fossil Amrit for soil moisture retention, Biosoils for micronutrient activation, and Contains nano urea. Additionally, for nitrogen balance, 1,200 farmers from 27 FPOs adopted biofortified zinc wheat and beta (β) carotene rich carrots through diversification and climate smart agriculture practices.
- Market Links: The total sales turnover of all 40 FPOs increased from ~INR 46 million (~USD 580,000) to ~INR 153 million (~USD 1.9 million) in the pre-intervention period, indicating that FPOs have established significant market linkages. established (both agricultural production and agricultural inputs) with institutional and local buyers. FPOs have transitioned from staple crops to cash crops, added value to selected value chains, and made data-driven business decisions. To help FPOs meet regulatory requirements, Grameen facilitated 22 FPOs with APMC licenses and 26 FPOs with export licenses.
- FPO Financial Flexibility: FPOs experienced a 112% increase in paid-up capital, reflecting their ability to generate working capital internally. Additionally, 29 FPOs were linked to either government or private financing schemes, enabling them to access financial resources and establish additional business activities.
Building on these achievements, the second phase of the MANDI project will focus on further enhancing the sustainability and resilience of FPOs in eastern Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. The 24-month intervention will involve 50 FPOs through a hub and spoke model, targeting at least 40% women farmers and targeting to reach 35,000 farmers. Key objectives include increasing farmers’ incomes, strengthening governance and operations of FPOs, and promoting market-led production for business viability.
The second phase of MANDI will adopt a comprehensive “one farm” approach to diversify production, integrate livelihoods and improve farmers’ incomes. It will also promote sustainable agricultural practices by facilitating access to organized market setups, strengthening supply and value chains, and promoting climate-resilient practices.
“We are excited to collaborate with the Grameen Foundation for the next phase of the market. We believe in the transformative potential of smallholder farmers to drive India’s agriculture sector forward,” said Julie Gehrke, Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, Walmart Foundation. “Through this project, we aim to provide farmers with the tools, resources and market access they need to improve their livelihoods and build a sustainable future for their communities.”
Commenting on the project, Ms. Bharti Joshi, Chief Program Officer, Grameen Foundation Indiasaid, “The second phase of MANDI builds on the achievements of the first phase and represents an important step towards increasing incomes and building resilience of smallholder farmers, especially women. Technology, market linkages and gender mainstreaming By taking advantage of this, the project aims to impact the agricultural landscape of Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.”
The Mandi II project will play an important role in addressing the challenges faced by small and marginal farmers in East Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. By rehabilitating and empowering FPOs, this initiative will increase farmers’ incomes, improve livelihoods, and promote sustainable agricultural practices.
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First Published: 23 Sep 2023, 11:44 IST