Building a network to reach smallholders

farmers in bangladesh

Building a network to reach smallholders

Our commitment

to empower smallholders

We're reaching out in rural areas in India to help smallholders grow their crops and their business

The Eastern Indian state of Odisha is home to 3.7 million smallholders and some of the least productive farms in the world. Rice yields per hectare are just half of India's national average. Many smallholders lack access to training and technologies that could greatly improve yields.

The challenges are many: they fear investment in their farm will go to waste – devastating cyclones have wiped out their crops before. Local infrastructure is weak; farms are remote and isolated in areas where training and quality products are inaccessible, which puts crops at risk if pests take hold. After the harvest, growers are faced with limited storage options, and are forced to sell their crops even when prices are low.

group of men sitting

Helping smallholders in Eastern India

Project Nirmiti

To address challenges in Odisha, we founded Project Nirmiti, which uses a network of local residents to make agricultural knowledge, inputs and services available to smallholders who mainly grow rice. It’s based on the principle that the best way to reach millions of smallholders is through smallholders themselves. Enterprising individuals enroll in the program to serve as “Farm Technology Service Providers” (or “Krishi Tantra Sevaks”) for their local community. They are smallholders themselves who build a network of growers in their community to help improve their practices, productivity and ultimately, their livelihoods.

Through the project, agricultural technology is brought to the least developed parts of India, helping farmers and their communities.

project nirmiti network

Building a network

During group training or one-on-one farm visits, they advise on a range of issues: sowing suitable seeds, spotting pests and diseases, using crop protection products and post-harvest storage. Governed by strict pricing protocols, they consolidate orders for a range of agriculture products directly from an authorized 'Center of Excellence' – which sells authentic products from Syngenta and other partners of the project. This allows smallholders to purchase crop protection products, safety equipment, seeds, and other goods without traveling long distances. Meanwhile, the service providers build small businesses for themselves, developing as entrepreneurs who earn commission on products they distribute.

There are currently plans to expand the project in three other states in Eastern India to reach up to 100,000 additional smallholders by 2016.

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