India is the land of small & marginal farmers. Despite their small individual landholdings, these farmers are vital to the country’s agricultural economy. This blog explores the importance of small farmers & FPOs who focus on the production of fruits & vegetables, some of the common challenges they face and how we, at go4fresh, provide comprehensive solutions to some of these challenges.
The majority of the farmers in India are small & marginal in size. In fact, it is estimated that these farmers contribute to nearly 85% of the total operational landholdings in India! At go4fresh, we primarily deal with farmers involved in the fruit & vegetable industry (FnV). Here too, these small & marginal farmers are immensely important. It is estimated that they alone contribute to over 50% of the country’s total food and vegetable production. Even outside of agriculture, the performance of these farmers is vital to not only the food & livelihood security of the country but also to the overall development of the economy.
While there are several challenges that small farmers face in general, the problems faced by farmers who specialise in the production of fruits and vegetables in India are quite different. In many cases, these farmers suffer from a higher wastage of produce due to poor warehousing/collection infrastructure and lack of proper loading-unloading facilities. They often also lack marketing support for their operations. This includes a lack of standardization, grading and proper packaging. Another key challenge faced by these farmers is the uncertain pricing of their produce. Prices of horticulture crops crash during the harvest season and peak during the lean months. This combined with improper post-harvest handling leads to regular price slumps. Finally, these small farmers also suffer from a lack of information on aggregate demand for products. This reduces their access to market (beyond their local geographies) and significantly hinders their selling prospects.
From the above passages, it is clear that there is an urgent need for solutions that can help small farmers have more sustainable livelihoods. One proven, effective solution has been the formation and promotion of Farmer Producer Organizations. An FPO is a collective of farmers who come together to leverage higher economies of scale in the production and marketing of agricultural products. While FPOs do have the potential to transform the lives of small and marginal farmers,they themselves face certain challenges that make their operations difficult. In many cases FPOs struggle to unlock their full potential because they lack business acumen and operate in an isolated environment. Additionally, many of the FPOs are also undercapitalized, which makes their operations even more complicated. This shows that despite the development of the FPOs, there still remains a clear need for tech-enabled supply-chain and market linkage solutions in India that not only benefits the small farmers but also simplifies the operations of the FPOs.
Here’s where we come in! At go4fresh, we follow the “kissan se dukaan tak” philosophy and try to add value to the agricultural supply chain by providing services that directly connect farmers to enterprises. Our platform focuses on small farmers & FPOs who are involved in the production of fresh fruits and vegetables and provides them with services that can help transform their operations. We aim to create effective market linkages by providing farmers & FPOs with access to reliable buyers, warehousing solutions, quality control measures and even help with transportation (through our logistics partners). However, what makes us truly unique & differentiated is our digital dashboard. Through this dashboard, we aim to be the digital interface between buyers & sellers and foster greater ease of doing business. On our platform, FPOs will be able to easily manage and maintain production and demand data, something which can completely transform their operational experience. They will also be able to access information & data on the aggregate demand for products. This will allow them to increase the size of their market, and reach beyond their local geographies. Furthermore, FPOs will be able to easily and accurately track their output data and match it with the corresponding demand data. This access to information will help them make informed decisions and maximize their operational efficiency.
Despite being the land of small & marginal farmers, the traditional Indian agricultural system does not favour these small farmers. This calls for a change or an evolution in the system that not only makes it more convenient but also more efficient for all the farmers & collectives involved in it. Through its unique features, our platform aims to be an easy and improved alternative to the traditional system and aims to empower the small farmers & FPOs who operate in it.