Webinar: Agricultural best practices through ICT interventions
NEWS AND FEATURES
Participants to South-South Exchange Visit in India Share How They Are Applying Their Learnings
The International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR), in partnership with Access Development Services (ADS) organized a south-south exchange visit in India on May 12-14, 2014. Eighteen participants representing GLA member-organizations in Asia, Eastern Africa and Southern Africa participated. The main agenda of the exchange visit was for the participants to look at successful intervention models on agriculture value chains and financial services within India.
The participants were divided into two teams for the field visits. One team visited Rajasthan and the other team visited Madhya Pradesh. Both teams visited a number of Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) or Companies and participants had the chance to interact with Board members and key officers of these organizations. The participants also had the chance to visit some of the groups’ activities.
Few months after the visit, IIRR sought feedback from the participants to get a sense at how they are applying what they have learned from the visit. Below are some of the feedback gathered.
Agriculture Sector Leader, Global Value Chains Thematic Coordinator
SNV - Netherlands Development Organisation ____________________________________________________________________________________
For me the major point of learning was the Producer Companies (structure and the range of services they provided to their farmer membership and non-members). I am using this in my programmes here in Zimbabwe where even though it’s not easy to register producers cooperatives as companies, we are building their capacity as viable business units with a profit motive to provide services such as marketing and inputs to their communities. We are in talks with the Ministry of SMEs to make it easy to register SPOs as companies as it increases their credibility and investment attractiveness, from what I saw at Neshkala Producer Company.
In the event of another exchange (even without a physical visit), i am keen to see where the warehouse receipting system is working, decentralised service provision e.g. soil testing and market-based extension systems. I would also be interested in seeing microfinance in practice, i.e. meeting the farmer borrowers to understand their decision-making on-farm.
A point of improvement is that the sites to be visited should present diverse innovation. For the team which went to Madya Pradesh, most of the clients visited were one form of producer company with only differences in shareholding structures.
Prosper B. Matondi (PhD)
Executive Director| Ruzivo Trust|28 Greendale Avenue| Greendale| Harare| Zimbabwe| ____________________________________________________________________________________
I led a writeshop on contract farming for the Southern Africa Learning Alliance (SALA), part of the GLA, for three days and reports will be lodged with IIRR soon through IRC. I have facilitated a Ware House Receipt System and Management Information System (MIS) with the Ministry of Agriculture. I co-facilitated a national workshop, and my organizations then organized two workshops covering all the eight agricultural provinces of Zimbabwe from district to province. I am part of the steering committee on the WRS and wonderful work is happening.
At organizational level, we have upscaled organic farming in four districts through training and capacity development. I have introduced the concept of producer companies to farming unions and intend to follow this up over time.
In summary I had fun learning in India, but even more fun translating lessons into action at local, national and regional levels.
Program Coordinator, Tanzania Gatsby Trust __________________________________________________________________________________
My learning from the field visits was the establishment of the producer companies under their own strong leadership plus useful networking between management team and producer members.
Based on the fact that we do have horticultural producer cooperatives but they lack organizational skills that would have enable them to build an umbrella that would place them together to have a good networking as far as marketing is concerned. From that aspect I have planned to organise all organic horticulture producers to have one umbrella (registered organization) that would have a control over marketing gimmicks.
My interest In future if the similar visits would be organised is to witness the whole cycle of Agricultural value chain combining producers, financial linkage services and market centres.
Suggestion/Improvement for the future visits: I was among the group that visited Madhya Pradesh whereby we ended up having visited similar producer companies, meeting with Board Members but without having a chance of meeting farmers/producers to hear their views/comments and challenges they face within the company. Therefore, I suggest the learning visits in future should cover the whole Agricultural value chain.
Monitoring and Evaluation Officer
National Agricultural Research Organisation
Entebbe Secretariate ____________________________________________________________________________________
The India exposure visit has helped to facilitate Agricultural researchers who won grants on establishing a farmer-managed pure seed system in sorghum and maize. I learnt an additional skill as I compile and produce corporate and other reports to meet the needs of different audiences who read my reports.
Project Assistant, Africa 2000 Network Uganda. _________________________________________________________________________________
Organic farming is irresistibly the way to go as promoted by Morarka foundation, Morarka Organic Foods Ltd. in Jaipur. Vermiculture production in Sawai Madhopur a significant reduction in production costs are realized as the use of natural methods means less buying of inputs. High yields are realized season per season without depending on for instance synthetic fertilizers. Farmers sustainably produce at least/no costs. The health of the farmer and the environment are protected. Farmers are assured of the market for their produce at a premium price.
Promoting Farming as a Business requires producer groups having knowledge in financial services. At Access Development Services it came out very strongly evidenced in the records collaterals for members' access to loans for prosperity of their farming businesses.
Value Chain development is the focus for the farming industry. The SPICES PROCESSING HUB we visited was a lesson that if farmers' capacities are built, they can small and grow bigger as they wish. Once value is added, a farmer will always enjoy the premium.
Women empowerment. The fact that in India women are "behind curtains", I was encouraged by the women producer company in Srijan. The Chairperson made a power point presentation, a scenario I have not witnessed in all the farmer groups I have worked with in Africa 2000 network Uganda, including the one I am currently implementing in the central region where the economic well-being is perceived to be better than other regions in the country.
Collective action; In Srijan, collective action was to certain extent possible in collaboration with the warehouse receipt system. I may not look into the challenges they shared with us but the fact that the system is in place, it should be supported by all stakeholders because with its success, many farmers will not get stuck in seasons' requirements and other related challenges. The experience of Srijan collective action is helping to achieve what I am required to achieve in collective action/ establishing collective centers.
Innovations for future improvement should dwell so much on value addition and marketing, a right to every farmer for development.