By Shambhu Nath Chaudhary
Ranchi, Jan 23 (IANS): Not long ago farmers, despite sweating in the fields, were forced to sell their produce at throwaway prices. But, now they are selling it across the world sitting in the comfort of their homes, thanks to technology.
The most striking feature is that women have played a significant role in this transition.
The story of a group of 7,000 women farmers of militancy-affected Churchu block of Hazaribagh district can take anyone by surprise.
In 2017, ten women formed a group and started farming, which was gradually joined by many others and in 2018, Churchu Nari Urja Farmer Produce Company Limited was established.
The company got affiliated with the agriculture ministry's National Agriculture Market (eNAM), through which the produce was sold online.
In 2019-20, the company earned Rs 1.03 crore. In 2020-21, it earned Rs 2.72 crore and in 2021-22, it has earned more than Rs 1.5 crore.
On December 17, 2021, the company was chosen as Best FPO of the year in the small category at a livelihood summit held in the national capital. One of the interesting features of this organisation is that it is run by women only, right from the Board of Director to farmers.
The company's chairperson is Sumita Devi while Lalmuni Marandi is director.
Lalmuni said that the success was not achieved overnight.
She said: "Earlier, our produce was sold at throwaway prices and traders did not pay on time. Sometimes, the traders used to return the produce. But now, the produce is sold online and the payment comes within 24 hours and we get 25 per cent more price for the crop compared to earlier times."
Through online trading via eNAM portal, the company facilitated digital payment of Rs 92 lakh to farmers.
Company chairman Sumitra Devi said Agriculture Market Committee general secretary Rakesh Kumar Singh's guidance played a key role in the sale of the produce.
In the initial phase, the farmers were reluctant to get associated with the FPO and to give money. Women associated with the FPO were provided with high quality seeds. Now, the FPO had taken dealership of many companies, which helps them to get seeds at the wholesale price and urea and DAP at reasonable prices.
The company has 2,500 shareholders and the women who do not have fields, are doing goat, pig and fish farming.
A FPO in Ranchi's Nagadi has also created history. Youths, who became unemployed due to Covid-19 , joined the FPO and started farming using modern technology, which opened the doors of success for them. In a period of less than two years, the company has done business of Rs 1.30 crore. This FPO has 400 farmers associated with it and the board of directors are Neetu Kesari, Ganesh Pahan, Suraj Kachap, Kanchan Devi and Aman Kumar.
In July 2020, the FPO started 'sehjan' farming on seven acres and around 10,000 saplings were planted. Besides 'sehjan', farming of peas, pumpkins, ginger, watermelons, beans, tomatoes is being done.
For preparing sampling, the government has provided a polyhouse on 75 per cent grant.
This FPO was guided by retired agriculture officer Ashok Kumar.
The FPO's affiliation with the eNAM portal changed the life of hundreds of farmers.
Ashok Mehta of Hazaribagh's Ichal block sold his crop produce online. When the farmers faced a tough time during the Covid-19 induced lockdown, Ashok sold 821 quintals of wheat online.
Likewise, Phooleshwar Mahto , who runs Churchu Wadi Fal Sabji Producer Company Limited which employees around 800 people, has sold watermelons worth more than Rs 30 lakh.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also complimented the two farmers and praised their hard work in an online programme.
It is being hoped that such success stories will continue..