Fostering Farmer’s Organization’s with Business through Apple Service project India which is initiated byRigor through ICT a consortium of partner organizations named Fresh food technology (FFT)1, Agriculture & Organic FarmingAdvancing local development through meso-credit, Group (AOFG) and Shri Jagdamba Samiti (SJS). TheFarmer Private Ltds and economic chain advent of ICT with this consortium has changed thedevelopment scenario of cultivation and the livelihood of these unreachable villages. It is convinced that ICT is theAuthor right step for supporting agriculture into a newUtpal Chandra(I.C.T Head) and L.P.Semwal (Chairman) dimension as it plays an important role by givingShri Jagdamba Samiti (NGO), Rishikesh, India solution to the challenges faced by the farmers as well asmailto:email@example.com the organization and also accelerate earnings. Aim - The aim of the new approach is to create aAbstract – Apple service project India is a livelihood profitable partnership between investors and farmerdevelopment project promoted by FFT consortium, in groups, by setting up ICT enabled joint venture of agro-the year of 2007. The consortium is promoting sustained processing enterprises based on solid feasibility studieseconomic development in rural areas by setting up and business plans. Similar to the self-help groups andhealthy agro processing enterprises in which farmer cooperatives, the aim is to set-up healthy business ingroup themselves gradually gain economic ownership handling, processing and trading farmer’s commoditieswith the help of both NGOs and experienced private on a commercial basis. The main difference of the newentrepreneurs. It has undertaken this project for the approach is that the farmers, along with social-small and marginal farmers of Uttrakhand and conscious corporate partners become equal businessHimachal Pradesh. The involvement of ICT with this partners of the investor. The farmers will only gain fullproject is indispensible as it plays an important role economic ownership once the investment is repaid fully.starting from information dissemination to ownership The economic ownership of the companies, however,sharing. This paper discusses the impact of Information can be fully transferred to the farmer groups solely.and Communication Technology(ICT) on agricultureknowledge transfer on farming to small and marginal THE SOLUTIONapple farmers of remote villages of the Himalays andestablishing their agro processing enterprises through In India, small and marginal farmers tend to getfarmer organizations. caught in the powerful grip of middlemen, informal lenders and other intermediaries. TheyKeywords: ICT, Small and Marginal Farmer, Economic have lack of collective action and on the otherOwnership, Agro-Processing Enterprise, Farmer hand private sector is hesitant of giving ownershipOrganizations. of the value chain to the farmers and sometimes it is exploitative in nature.IntroductionIn India, Apple farming is practiced only in high hilly The vision of FFT is to provide solution for socio-areas. Villages there are much scattered. Again apple economic empowerment of small and marginal farmersorchards are located in the remote hills slopes in dense through livelihood improvement that tries to address theforests, where there are no modern ways to reach. In above mentioned problems through a new system ofsome cases orchards are 12 km inside the forest. Till a institutional design. Here a new form of partnership on afew years back, it was common for the farmers to grow loan cum investment basis is being tried out. This is triedapples in an age old conventional process. Though apple by organizing the farmers to form fair and feasibleproduction generates good revenues they hardly took business entities based on feasible business planning.care of right time of harvesting, transportation to marketand selling at a reasonable price. This was due to small Therefore, an approach is targeted towards setting-upand marginal farming, harsh and unpredictable weather healthy agro-businesses through joint venture of farmerscondition, lack of communication, knowhow of qualityand economy. 1 FFT is consortium leader for the project, AOFG is overseeing the organization of farmer groups and coordinatingFortunately, a new approach of socio-economic the implementation in the field, whereas and Shri Jagdambadevelopment approached to the Nagaon area of Samiti (SJS) support the farmer groups’ directly on location.Uttrakhand and Jubbal area of Himachal Pradesh This consortium is under the financial assistance of SHGW (A Private Dutch Foundation).
and private investors with the help of FFT consortium. Itaims to set up healthy farmer owned businesses in Joint Ventures for Primary Business Units – Sixhandling, processing and trading farmer’s commodities apple Grower Groups, called as Farmer Trusts, havecollectively. been registered. Here the ownership/benefit distribution shall be in the ratio of the contributionThe main constraints hampering the growth of pooled by the farmers. These farmer associationsindustries in the hilly states of nation are summarized have entered into joint ventures with FFT to formbelow: four Farmer Limited Companies. These farmer limited companies are involved in level one value Geographical and environmental constraints in the addition of grading, sorting, packing and marketing regions; as the primary operation in the value chain. Lack of availability of infrastructure including roads in remote areas; Joint Ventures - Secondary Business Unit - These Lack of marketing opportunities and avenues; and Farmer Trusts have representatives in a holding Non-availability of raw materials locally; Trust called E Trusts, in order to move up in the next Poor ICT infrastructure and services. level of value chain. This has entered into a Joint Venture with the FFT to form a Processing Company called the FFT Himlayan Fresh Produce Private Limited Company and is going to undertake construction of Cold Storage at Naogaon, Uttarkashi. This model provides ample opportunities for the farmers to improve the supply chain businesses. By investing in infrastructure like long-term storage facilities, grading and sorting machines, so that the products can give them a good return when it is to be sold in a better form. Business Cycle Planning (Value-addition and marketing) Each year Business Planning is done by keeping inAn Apple farmer group involved in a meeting with SJS mindofficials to create Farmer Trust as it is first step towards Input Planningthe solution. Source:- SJS Collection Center office, Working Capital PlanningNagaon, Uttranchal Storage, Transportation and Marketing Sales and Distribution ManagementPROJECT RATIONALE Price Buildup Profit Realization and Premium DistributionThe proposed Solution’s relevance (in terms of investments in agriculture development through Sustainability of the investments concept of farmer joint ventures) Investments are sustainable as they are meant to be returned through the profits of these businessSome of the guiding principles are – cycles over the next few years. To enable farmers to move up in the value chain. Further such investments shall then be made in Loan, No Free Money. similar such enterprises. Farmers involvement in joint venture company Based on the above principles the joint venture through farmers groups. companies can get loans and subsidies from Profit/Ownership distribution among the financial institutions and from the government participants of the joint venture companies. which is presently only accessible by private Reinvestment of profit, partially, for building sector in urban areas. Through these joint infrastructure of the company. collectives we are trying to extend the reach of the farmers to these schemes.Implementation of the model The Basic ICT Model with Stakeholders in AppleThe partnerships are of following kinds. Project:
Advantages of this ICT model :- The new structure offers many benefits to Apple Project India. 1. The main purpose to accommodate all the key stake holders has been solved. 2. Centralized ICT management with distributed activities. 3. Ease of development and deployment of techno- logy. Figure1: ICT model with key Stakeholder 4. Information sharing among different stake hold- ers and to make them familiar with ICT.The impact of an ICT deployment with Apple Project In- 5. Cost effective.dia is incremental. Apple Project India comprises of dif-ferent stakeholders. Each and every stakeholder has anequal importance in the ICT model; this includes smalland marginal farmers to farmer trusts, managementteam, funding agencies etc. Thus, ICT identified thedifferent stakeholders involved in this project and inte-grated them with the ICT work flow structures.Each internal wedge of this model represents a stakeholder. The central “ICT Apple Project India”, works asa facilitator of information exchange between differentstake holders. It also maintains an ICT team at differentlevels to identify and cater to the demand of informationrequired by the different stake holders. Finally this fed-erated structure is tested with a set of case studies and isfound suitable for this project. Title: Figure 2: ICT Work Flow Model of Apple Service Project IndiaStakeholder Agency Information to provide by I.C.T ICT Work Flow in Apple Service Project India:Small and ≈ Agriculture Informa-Marginal --------------- tion for Apple farm-Farmers The entire workflow of ICT is divided into three ing. different levels. This is due to the similarities of scope of ≈ Weather forecasting. works at each level. Each level should perform wellFarmers Sixteen farmer ≈ ≈ PlanningPrice. Market defined ICT activities. Level boundary denotes theGroup groups four each ≈ Forecasting in Uttrakhand exchange of information. and Himachal ≈ Market PriceTrust of Six farmer trust Profit distribution Level 1: ICT activity in this level is concerned withFarmers in six different remote villages, apple farmers and village center offices. location at Hi- ≈ Ownership allocationJoint Venture FFT Consortium ≈ BudgetCompanies with six farmer Level 2: The important ICT activity of Collection center ≈ Planning groups offices is to provide support and training and bridging between the levels.Support Orga- Shri Jagdamba ≈ Maintain ICT teamnization Samiti, NGO and provide ICT in- formation to different Level 3: Head Office- Shri Jagdamba Samiti, FFT,Funding SHGW (A Pri- ≈ Budget and Expendi- Controlled Atmosphere Store and Funding Agency etc.,Agency vate Dutch Foun- ture. are the main entity of ICT. dation) ICT Services
Establishes link between Apple Producers, Village During the apple season, purchasing apples, grading Centers, Collection Centers and Head Office. apples, packaging apples, billing, dispatching, inventory Agricultural information transfer and sharing. management related activities are also managed from Farmers Database Management Information System. Collection Center Offices. All these activities are fully M.I.S. on planning and target of Apple collection - controlled by the customized software which is prior to apple season. developed and maintained by in-house ICT team. The Current market price analysis such as Price Build up head office controls and monitors the overall ICT and Finding best buyers. activities of different branch offices located in the far Quality control of apples. flung areas. It provides a technical support to different Purchasing Apples from the farmers. branch offices. Besides controlling and monitoring of Processing and Centralized Inventory Management various ICT activities of different offices, it is also System. involved in price buildup management system for M.I.S. on Ownership transfer and profit distribution different branch offices. Price buildup is one of the to the farmers. important activities during apple season as it offers the ICT kiosk at different village centers. best price for selling apples for the farmers, according to market condition. With this, exploitation throughFor organizing and ease of management, different middleman and other buyers is completely overcome.nearby villages are connected to village center offices.The main activities of the village center offices are to Central inventory management system is one of the mostwork as a resource center for the framers, to look after crucial activities of the ICT as it keeps track of everyagriculture related problems, to give weather related record of transaction of every farmer during appleinformation, to provide training on apple farming, season. Farmer participation is meant for partnershiphoney bees keeping, fruit processing, price buildup etc. towards the organization. This partnership leads the farmer to earn their profit by their participation andThe other activities of the village center offices are to gradually get the percentage of ownership of thework with Farmers Database Management Information company.System, where the detailed information of the farmersare kept along with their personal details, information ofland details, numbers of trees they have, average age oftrees etc. The process of ICT work flow begins with thisprimary information that is very much crucial for furtheranalysis and decision making.Farmer Database Management Information System alsoinvolves registering new farmers, feeding informationof newly registered farmers, providing ID cards,feeding data of expected apple production on a periodicintervals etc. Beside these, every village center runs anICT kiosk which also has an internet connection for thecommunication with the next level offices as well as forthe benefit of the villagers. Grading of apples in the Collection Center. Source:- SJSVillage center offices, in turn are controlled by the Collection Center office, Nagaon, UttranchalCollection Center offices. Collection Center officeswork as a second level resource center for these village THE SOLUTION’S SUCCESS/IMPACTcenter offices and also control other villages nearby tothe centers. From this level planning, forecasting and Progress So Far - Four collection centres (for grading,target of apple collection related activities are conducted. pre-cooling and packing centers - two each in HimachalICT plays an important role by providing different and Uttaranchal) have been established in 2007 and twoM.I.S. reports on planning, forecasting and also other more centers in Uttranchal were established during 2008reports of day-to-day activities to the head office. The in the proximity of apple growing areas. Whileother activities of collection center offices are to provide preliminary processing activities like grading andtraining to the village center officials and farmers. packaging were done in the first three business cycles, the second business cycle of secondary value addition is
expected to be done next year through cold storage unit. ICT kiosk with internet facility for the farmers/During harvesting season of 2008, 2009 and 2010, all villagersthe centers purchased apples from the participatingfarmer groups, individuals and committees and sold the All the participating farmers will get daily updates onprocessed produce ( sorted, graded and packed) in the weather forecasting, alert messages through SMS onmarket at comparatively higher price. apple cultivation on their mobile phones. They will obtain technical support in terms of managing their Table1: Financial Review of Apple Project India orchards, improving the quality of their yield, harvestingYear Apple Boxes Profit(Rs.) and post-harvesting activities. Field extension officers Targeted Achieved have conducted a detailed survey of 2567 apple growing2008 50000 37,000 Rs 3,75,420.00 farmers covering their land, socio economic status and2009 50000 20,000 Rs 1,03,020.00 estimated production for the improvement of ICT2010 60000 35,000 so far N.A workflow. ICT is also planning to provide training on financial management, operational management toThree business cycles have been completed. In the year different official levels.2008 and 2009 the turnovers of 37,000 and 20,000 CHALLENGES AND PROBLEM USING ICTSboxes (926.2 MT and 558.52 MT) are achieved FOR APPLE PROJECTrespectively, while in 2010 till now 35,000 boxes havebeen collected (500 MT). Operating profits of Rs ICT experiences many challenges in respect to3,75,420 and Rs 1,03,020 are generated as a result of the information dissemination and accessibility with thesales of the apples. The same was distributed amongst remote village center offices and the farmers also. Thesethe members as premium and as capitalization fee. include lack of information and communication facilities, poor infrastructure of information andTable2: Villages and Farmers involved with Apple Project communication delivery channels in these high hilly India regions, sometimes unavailability of communication services also contribute. YEAR Total Number of Total Farmers Collection Centers Number Involved Collecting information about the farmers, farming and of their crops is also a challenging job for our ICT team Villages members, as the villages are very much scattered. 2007 4 12 300 Although it is very time consuming to go to the 2008 6 35 1500 villages and collect the information about them, still it 2009 6 72 2567 is a routine duty (visiting the villages and information 2010 6+1 Central Cold 72 2567 collection) of the village center office staff members. Store As many of the information fields about the farmers still remain blank, it affects ICT for further processing of information and preparing MIS reports.FUTURE PLAN OF ICT Again adaptability and readiness to involve with the new technology and services is a major problem. EvenEncouraged by the positive outcome of the use of I.C.T though, agricultural expertise and knowledge ison Apple Service Project India, some ambitious I.C.T available, majority of farming community still resort tobased plans are being considered in the coming their old methods and are unwilling to take advices likefinancial years. Extensive research is being carried out honey bee keeping, spraying of hormones on the treeson different aspects of those I.C.T plans and also at right time etc. Excessive rain and snowfall alsolooking for deriving benefits from different government affect the functioning ICT.ICT schemes. CONCLUSION AND SOCIAL IMPACT OFFuture plan INNOVATION Mobile information services- Introducing Small Message Services for the farmers, Local Weather As a result of implementing ICT, all the four project Forecasting for next 24 to 48 hour. centres have selected various schemes and projects for News -Agri News, Horticulture News. getting support from other agencies (both government Soil testing and Input Application advices. and non-government) and are looking forward for better Net Banking for the farmers, Mobile banking business planning during 2010-11. By gaining technical services. know-how through attending the training on marketing,
quality grading and packing apple collection, estimateshave been prepared and harvesting of apple is scheduledas per the demand of market/buyers. The stakeholdershave now started planning for the next season in advanceto cover the essential managerial costs for full year andalso to capitalize the center as quickly as possible.Farmer groups are now convinced to invest ininfrastructure out of their increased returns for thebetterment of the project and the livelihood.REFERENCES§ L.P. Semwal (SJS) and Edwin Willemsen (FFT) (2009)– Fostering Farmer ‘s Organisation with BusinessRigour.§ Obayelu Abiodun Elijah -Effects of the EmergingInformation Communication Technologies (ICTs) onAgricultural Knowledge Transfer to SmallholderFarmers in Nigeria.