ANSWERSQ.1 What societal problem does your project solve?ANS. Our project addresses the following problems, some immediately and some in the longterm, eventually: ● Farmer’s issues and lack of awareness ● Middlemen Intervention ● Unemployment (even amongst women) ● Food Inflation ● Rural development ● Health issues (by organic produce) ● Hoarding ● Agricultural sector problems in India ● Environmental ProblemsIn India, farmers sell their produce to a middleman/trader who pays them a very small priceand exploits them. He actually sells the output in the market and earns more than 50% of theprofit. In India, 80% of the commodities we use have inputs from the Agro sector. Thishappens because farmers are meek and unaware of the market. Also, farmers don’t haveaccess to the markets. So, if they have a strong support and enterprising ideas are explained,they will benefit a lot in an agrarian country like India. The area (Vidarbha region inMaharashtra) where we would be starting this project, is known for its high farmer suiciderates and grievances. We need ideas that will ultimately make a difference to the lives of thefarmers. Our project is one such effort.Q2. What would be the measurable outcomes of the partnership that you propose tocreate between the community and your educational institution?ANS. We propose to begin a whole new enterprise that will aid the farmer community atlarge. Students from our institution can be involved in the creation and working of thisenterprise.Retail units by the farmers will be set up in which they would sell their output directly in theavailable markets and have a share in the profits. A brand “FARMARK” will be createdunder which the commodities will be sold at such prices that will be lower than the marketprice but, at the same time, higher than the amount what the farmer receives from themiddleman. Thus, there will be consumer + producer surplus. At initial level, basic Agroproducts like vegetables, pulses, spices and others will be sold. In some time, as processingunits are opened at the same place by the farmers themselves, secondary products will also besold like juices, pickles, etc. under the same brand.Increase in income of farmers will help in fulfilling their capital needs.There will be grouping of the output of several small farmers under the brand who wouldotherwise find it difficult to sell directly in the market.Output will also increase with better farming techniques, capital and as organic farmingexpands. Initially, we will start off by growing only 10% organic produce. Later, if thedemand is more, we shall expand the scope of organic farming.
The trust that the consumer will have on the vegetables he is consuming would form anintegral part of the growth of this business. There will be a direct consumer-farmer connectwhere a consumer would personally know the farm and the farmer from where the food iscoming daily.There would be more employment opportunities and tremendous scope for diversification asIndia is a predominantly agrarian country. The business can expand to a really good level andan agro hub can be developed. There will be SHARED VALUE CAPITALISM.Q3. How would you, with the support of your faculty advisor on campus and some onefrom the community, work together around this specified community issue?ANS. We have already interacted with the community and they are willing to take part. Wehave researched on the prices and done a cost-benefit analysis. There is a ready demand in themarket for low priced vegetables due to the nearly double digit food inflation. We have a pre-determined demand as well.So to start with, we’ll have two farmers who would work on 10 acre land each at villageKopamandvi (in Yavatmal district). The output will be ready in 3 months. 10% of theirproduction to be organic. Then, a retail unit will be opened in Nagpur (3 hours distance byroad from the Farm) where the produce will be sold directly by the farmers under a brandname. The surplus labour on farms will be absorbed in the retailing business. As the modelwill show its results, more farmers would be willing to replicate it. They will also be taughtbetter farming techniques and marketing methods for their advantage. They will benefit fromthe established knowledge about subsidies, innovations in farming, etc. and research done byus.Q4. How would you envision sharing power and decision making in the partnership? Inother words, instead of doing something for the community how would you dosomething with the community?ANS. This project is completely based on direct involvement of the farmer community andthe work they are doing on a day to day basis.Farmers will be the major stakeholders in the business and there will be mutual profit sharingaccording to the proportionate amount that they contribute through the production on theirland. Each farmer will work in his individual farm and there will be collectivisation of output.Farmers, their families and villagers will be given freedom to open up their own retail units ifinvestment is possible by them. They also have the freedom to start up processing units andsupplementary businesses under our assistance. We will monitor the business and help inadministrative, legal and political hurdles. We’ll help them in getting certified and brandedtoo.Q5. How would you collect data on what the project was doing and use it in the decisionmaking process?
ANS. As we would be monitoring the business closely, we’ll keep a record of the demand andsupply. We will accordingly, plan for the next output and marketing style. It will be acontinuous process of growth monitoring and strategising. This will not be a tough job as ourresidences are in Nagpur and Kopamandvi. Computers are usually available everywhere. Wecan use simple Excel sheets to collect the data. Using various tools provided by the software,we can make decisions on expansion and to make predictions. By this we can study thelosses/profits, response to the business by all parties, prices, etc. Accordingly, we can inclinethe business in the required direction.Q6. What would be the project activities? Give examples of how the strengths alreadyexisting in the community will be acknowledged, built upon, and enhanced in thepartnership to solve the problem.ANS. The advantage to us in this project is that we already have most of the resourcesavailable with us: Land, Means of Transport, Human Capital and basic knowledge ofAgriculture. We have explained to the farmers how they can benefit by direct selling.Basically, they are unaware about the general prices and do not have the courage to undertakerisks. So, by having an assured backup, they can work upon their strengths and improve theirstandard of living. There is an immense scope for growth as farmers are quite willing to workwith us, as we assessed during our survey. The main task is to involve the community andmake them realize the potential by explaining the idea to them properly and also the benefitsthey will get by being involved in it.Project activities would include growing vegetables and Agro products on the land and thenselling under a brand through small retail units. The activities would be simplified, self-sustaining, independent of external influences like middlemen.Q7. What obstacles or challenges might you encounter in implementing your project,and how would you address them?ANS. Some of the problems that we might be tackling are as follows:Fear in the mind of farmers due to change and something new: We have talked to them andalso properly understood their inhibitions about entering a new venture. Once the success ofthe model is proved in the first few months, we will tell the farmers about it. We are sure thatthey would be willing to be involved as it is enormously beneficial to them.Publicising and opening a new unit in a city: As we would be selling the food commodities atlow prices, it is bound to become popular very fast in the times of highly inflated prices. Plus,we are in touch with a lot of contacts as we belong to the same place (Nagpur) and thus it willbe a help in facing this.Funding: We are looking forward to investors. We require funds to establish our retail shop, acommunication network between the us, the farmers and the consumers and making sure thatwe have access to a proper transport system. Raising money depends on how we are able toconvince our investors. We have already received an overwhelming response from the farmercommunity, so we feel that fund raising would be possible in the similar way.
Practical Difficulties in running a business: Can be overcome with time, experience,profits/capital and management changes.Certain dependence on weather: Generally, this hasn’t been a problem in the area that wehave chosen. So even if there is some irregularity, hopefully it is after we are ready with thefirst output because after that we will properly store the excess and also store it in the form ofprocessed items.Basically, there are few challenges and obstacles in this area. This sector is totally unexploredand farming is being practiced traditionally, the way it is, for years together. There has been alack of initiative and stagnation. We can capitalise on that to overcome the difficulties weface.Q8. Recruiting Volunteers: Would you recruit additional student volunteers? If so,how?ANS. As our School is a national institute, students from different areas can establish thebrand in the regions where they belong. Thus, the brand can be expanded.Recruiting will be done when the business expands. Students pursuing professional courseslike Chartered Accountancy, Company Secretary, Cost Accountancy, Business Managementetc. can help us by providing legal, administrative, financial aid and brainstorming for newer,innovative ideas. Advertising, designing, promotion work can be given to them as well. Theycan also help in training and educating the farmers.Q9. Enlisting Partners:Do you envision enlisting businesses, or other organizations, etc.,to help; if so, how?ANS. Possibly, in franchising, partnerships and funding. Basically, that can be thought of inthe next step of the business i.e after expansion. They can aid in procuring processing unitsand infrastructure. They can help in transforming the rural area into an agro-business hub.Also, as the area develops and farmers look towards investment, services like microfinance,banking, etc. would be essential.Future possibilities can be explored as and when they come.Q10. How would the award money be used here?If your project idea is an innovation ofan existing program, what are its current funding sources?ANS. The award money would mostly be used in building up the infrastructure andestablishing the brand in the market. Since some farm area is already owned by us, a part ofthe resources are already existing. Farming is being carried out normally in these areasalready. We are going to build over these existing resources.The retail unit expenses will involve:Rent including electricity charges (Rs.10,000)
Maintenance and Salaries (Rs.6000)Buying a fridge/refrigerator (Rs.6000)Décor (Rs.4000)Remaining Rs.4000 - RESERVEQ11. What do you anticipate learning from engaging in the service project?ANS. We anticipate understanding the various problems faced by the farmers at their trueface value. At the same time, we would be learning to tackle them using modernentrepreneurial methodsEmpowering the community to stand up on their own is definitely better than charity.We also get to know about the marketing and working of a business from the root level.Networking and interaction is another plus point.There will be a realization of our own potential.We will learn how to approach people and organisations while launching a new venture.Most importantly, we experience and demonstrate that shared value capitalism is possible andis advantageous for all the sections of the society. Wealth creation and socialism can go handin hand. We learn the concept of a social business with unlimited potential.Q12. If the above questions have not enabled you to convey the essence and value ofyour project’s impact, use this space to supplement your answers.ANS. If the first retail unit runs successfully, then we will start more such. Farmers will joinin as they see the positive results. So, eventually, we plan to make this a profit making agro-brand run by the farmers, with the farmers and for the farmers. We aim to establish an agro-hub in the area where all the activities from the production stage to the final product stageafter processing/manufacturing would be carried out in one place. We are also emphasizingon organic production as it is beneficial for the health, ecology and environment. In the longrun, its production increases as land fertility increases resulting in lower costs and higherprofits. We have got some products being produced significantly in this region like cotton,jowar, raw mango, turmeric, groundnut, soya bean and sunflower that have got a lot of scopefor value addition as they have several uses. Processing can be carried out in the same placewhich will be a great advantage to the community. Farmers are leading the same repetitivelives and workstyle from years together. There is definitely a strong need for initiative,innovation and change. The complacency needs to be overcome.Q13. Please submit an abstract (clear summary) of your proposed project idea.
ANS. Our project will create a brand “FarMark” under which the farmers will have a directshare. They will operate the retail units. Their profits will increase almost 2 times accordingto our calculations with the elimination of middlemen. The products will be priced in such away that that it will be much lesser than the market price (around Rs.10 difference) but wouldalso be more than what the famer at present receives as the price. For example, take the caseof Okra(bhendi) Production is 2500 kg/acre and cost to the farmer is Rs.10,000/acre. Theaverage price that farmer receives now is Rs.25/kg which is sold in the market by themiddlemen at the rate of Rs.50/kg. Through this, the farmer earns a profit of Rs.52,500. Now,with our model, the retail price will be changed to Rs. 40/kg. The farmer would receive theentire price. His profits would increase to Rs.90,000.We have got several products that can be grown in the selected region (Kopamandavi Village,Yavatmal District, Maharashtra State). These will be transported to Nagpur (3 hours awayand connected through National Highway-7) daily and sold through the retail unit.With positive results, we will expand the business and in future, aim to get all the processingand secondary industries at one place so that profits are economized to the producers.Q14. Explain how you would extend the project concept into a commercial enterprisethat also continues to meet the social need in the context of meeting a market need.ANS. The project, as explained earlier, is a profit making agro business. This will be carriedout by the farmers, with the farmers and for the farmers. This is a social project which entailswealth creation along with human capital and rural development. It will lead to rise in theincome of the farmer community and the villagers. It will generate employment opportunities.There are several small workers who might not find it feasible to sell their produce directly inthe market. So the benefit is that all the output will be collectivised and sold by FarMark. Thefarmers would have the proportionate share in the profits to the level they have contributed.Plus, there is an enormous scope for this idea to expand in all possible directions and will leadto the creation of an agro hub. After this project expands to a significant level, it can beconverted into a company with farmers being the owners.Q15. Explain the viability of the proposed commercial enterprise to attract investorsand provide to them an attractive return on their investment.ANS. Following are the points which would exhibit the scope for investors: ● FUTURE PLANS: FarMark has a huge potential to expand into a large scale business. As it grows, the rural places would need more of financial services like banks, microfinance, etc. and other development features. ● ONE-OF-A-KIND PROJECT: Till date no such project has been carried out. Though there have been efforts on similar lines like RelianceFRESH and Rythu Bazaars, they haven’t been successful in directly connecting the farmers. FarMark would connect the consumer and the farmer directly. ● LOW CAPITAL AT INITIAL STAGE: As most of the agro based resources are already available, capital is only required at the initial stage for the opening of the retail unit. ● COST ANALYSIS & RESEARCH: We are in direct touch with the community and have the support of the people there. We have properly undertaken the cost studies and research. ● ORGANIC PRODUCTION: This offers a huge scope with the ready market in urban places consisting of the diet conscious people, patients, etc.
● PROXIMITY TO IMPORTANT CITIES: Nagpur is one of the highly emerging cities in India. It is in the news for its infrastructure and MIHAN project. Hyderabad, one of the largest metropolitans is also situated close by. Both the cities are at around 3 hours distance from Patanbori. ● COTTON PRODUCTION: Though Patanbori is known for its cotton production, not a single textile industry is located over there. Thus, a great opportunity for cotton industries to flourish.Thus, we are quite sure that our project would offer an array of opportunities for allprospective investors.