The COVID19 Pandemic has brought with itself numerous problems for smallholder farmers. It’s has become a major challenge for the Smallholder Farmer Committees (SHFC) members to sell their surplus produce to potential market.
In Vidisha district, during the post-harvest seasons, middlemen visit the farmer villages to aggregate harvested wheat from the farmers. However, the middlemen are procuring the wheat from the farmers at a much lesser rate than the minimum support price set by the government. While the government rates are INR 1925 per quintal, the middlemen procure the harvest at a cheaper rate of INR 1625, which is a reduced price of more than 15% given to each farmer. The reason why the farmers are also selling their harvest to the middlemen is because the payment to the farmers is done on the spot while the government transfers the money to the farmers’ accounts which takes 10-12 days after the sale. Moreover, to link the produce with a government recognised society, SHFC members need to register as a member under the government guideline. Unfortunately, some of our SHFC members do not have the required documents to get into the system.
The SHFCs, which is a group of smallholder farmers in each village, is a platform where farmers come together to resolve issues like these. SAFBIN facilitates and supports these farmers with relevant knowledge and linkages so that they can increase their production and income to end hunger. SAFBIN has been working with the 60 SHFC members to support them increase their income through their farm.
When this issue of market linkage was highlighted in the farmers groups, SAFBIN encouraged and facilitated the registered farmers to sell their harvest directly to the government society as per the quota. Discussions also being done with government department to ensure timely transfer of the amount to the farmer bank accounts. 72% SHFC members (43 SHFC members) have successfully sold their wheat to the society till now. With this, SAFBIN supported the farmers to have successful market linkage at 15% higher rate in comparison to the rate given by the middlemen. Out of the 1314 Quintals produced by the 43 farmers, a total of 794 Quintals of surplus was sold, and 520 Quintals is kept for their own consumption.
SAFBIN’s facilitation has helped farmers to come together and collectivise to sell their surplus to the government institution where they can get the best prices for their produce. This has boosted the confidence of the farmers who now do not have to worry about transporting and selling their produce alone. Many more farmers are now motivated to come together and sell their produce together.