Go-getters' green revolution

Go-getters' green revolution

A win-win situation as fora of farmers foray into direct trade with end users

trendsetters: Consumers look at the choicest of mangoes at a farmers’ market in Mysore.DH PhotosThis is back to the roots with a route for sustainable income, one may say. Farmers from in and around Mysore have formed groups, adopted natural and organic methods to not only ensure a source of livelihood, but also to reach healthy food products to consumers at reasonable rates at their doorsteps.

The trend is catching up in various localities of the State’s cultural capital.

Bhoomitayi Balaga, a forum of just five farmers, was started on Gandhi Jayanti day (October 2) in 2005 and operates through a roadside makeshift market in Kuvempunagar.

The market functions only on Wednesdays and Sundays and the produce on sale are edible tubers, besides other vegetables. It’s an interactive business forum of sorts with the consumers discussing the food practices and telling farmers what they want.

The made-to-order products are there for the taking the next week. Other groups working on the lines of Bhoomitayi Balaga are Nesara, Nisarga, Jeevamrutha, Arambha and Banuli Krishikara Balaga. With the income of each farmer in the range of Rs 10,000-Rs 15,000, they are a satisfied lot.  

Arambha also made a beginning on Gandhi Jayanti day in 2004 and 18 farmers are living on the decent income that their enterprise is providing. This forum was also a once-in-a-week market open between 3 pm and 7 pm, selling leafy vegetables, vegetables and fruits. But of late, these farmers sell the products through two shops in Saraswathipuram and Ramakrishnanagar throughout the week.

In addition, quality jaggery, edible oil, wheat and tur dal are sourced from different parts of the State and sold to the consumers. Here too, the income of the farmers is in the Rs 10,000-Rs 15,000 range.

But Nesara’s saga stands out, operating its market for the last 14 years, and the number of members stands at 215. However, only 50 of them are farmers. Nesara has its shop in the heart of the city, with 25 farmers supplying organic products on a continuous basis.

Nesara’s seven-day-a-week store records monthly business transactions worth Rs 1.5 lakh, and the income per farmer is Rs 5,000 to Rs 25,000. Similarly, the shop run by the ‘Nisarga’ forum has 60 members and each farmer makes Rs 1,000 to Rs 30,000 a month.

The one-year-old Jeevamrutha forum with 25 farmers also does brisk business in grains, vegetables and fruits. It also deals in medicinal plants. Farmers stand to reap 80 per cent of the benefits. Though the medicinal plants are slightly priced on the higher side, the consumers don’t mind it.

These little but effective experiments have a larger lesson, especially in the context of the recent Global Agriculture Investors Meet. There is no clue as to how much of the promised investments translate into reality and how much ends up benefiting the farming community. But Mysore’s entrepreneurial farmers have shown the way, that there can be substantive change although in silent mode. A green revolution is definitely on, albeit as an undercurrent.

The farmers have shown that all it takes is hard work, some enterprise and a knowledge of organic farming realities. They have made a difference without even talking about the thousands of crores of rupees that big ticket agri firms are all about.

The green harbingers have made all the change where it matters the most - at the grassroots. The public and private sectors have no role to play even as the end user gets what he wants directly from the farmers, keeping middlemen at bay.

‘Radio’ active farmers

The story behind the Banuli Krishikara Balaga arouses interest. It was the ‘Raitharige Salahe’ programme on All India Radio that brought this 14-member group of farmers together.

The word Banuli is Kannada for radio. They took suggestions aired on radio, implemented them and now have two shops in Mysore and one in Mandya. Having eliminated middlemen, they spend one per cent of their proceeds on their shops and the shop workers.

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