When farmers across the State are suffering huge crop losses owing to severe drought, a few small farmers in the backward Malavalli taluk of Mandya district have managed to double their income. All thanks to the Integrated Horticultural Development (IHD) scheme implemented through Farmers Producers’ Organisations (FPOs) by the government in a cluster of villages in the taluk.
Though these farmers number less than 100, the experiment taken up since October 2016 is a beacon of hope to other farmers.
The IHD scheme, undertaken through public-private partnership model, works by taking care of marketing and input/crop management. The project’s private partner, Lawrencedale Agro Processing India Pvt. Ltd., a fresh produce supply chain company, is responsible for assisting farmers, right from crop selection to marketing.
“We begin with soil testing and advising farmers on the crop varieties to be chosen and nutrient management in accordance with specific requirements of the soil. Our aim is to improve the yield quality so that there is market demand. We also procure their produce from their farms at Mysuru market rates,” said Palat Vijayaraghavan, founder and CEO of the company.
The company adds value to the produce and sells them to its customers in different parts of Karnataka and other States, in supermarkets and regular shops. Of the nearly 1,000 members of the Malavalli Horticultural FPO, the company has chosen 130 farmers with a total land extent of about 130 acres and borewell facilities for the scheme. Of these farmers, nearly 90 to 100 have managed to increase their income, Mr. Vijayaraghavan said.
Karnataka Horticulture Commissioner P.C. Ray said the main aim of the initiative was to ensure sustainable income for farmers by linking them with markets. The private partner has been mandated with the responsibility of procuring a minimum of 50% of produce from the farmers chosen for the project at the prevailing market rates.
“Under this project, the government provides 50% of the project cost while the private company invests 30 to 40% in terms of putting in place the required farm infrastructure,” Mr. Ray said.
While seven such projects are in operation in different parts of the State, another three will be launched soon, he said. While these projects cover 1,880 farmers now, the Horticulture Department has ambitious plans to increase the number to 10,000 in the next year by adding another 20 projects, he said.
‘Will never quit farming’
Naganna, 36, from Happalagerikoppa of Malavalli taluk, has just 30 guntas of land. Unable to get adequate income from his land, he migrated to Bengaluru and worked as a labourer for a salary of ₹6,000 a month. But, he was forced to return to his village as even that job was seasonal. He then enrolled himself in the IHD scheme. Life changed, for he managed to earn about ₹70,000 within six months of joining. “I will never ever think of quitting farming,” he said.
He earns ₹5 lakh a year
K.S. Andani of Hanakola village in Malavalli taluk is a happy man. He manages to earn ₹5 lakh a year from his four-acre farm by growing various vegetables under the IHD scheme. He cites marketing linkages, reduction in input costs and improvement in quantity and quality of produce as the main reasons for increase in income.