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Thursday, January 20, 2022

11 farmers in Maharashtra changed lockdown, earning Rs 6 crore

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In March 2020, a lockdown was announced across the country, with Covid-19 cases rising. The sudden announcement of the lockdown has caused many people to suffer, many lives have been halted and business too has had a significant impact. The situation of farmers in Ahmednagar, Maharashtra was also no different. Farmers who used to sell vegetables and fruits in Mumbai, Pune and other neighboring cities suddenly had a rising stock of vegetables. There was no market to sell its produce. Then how some farmers started a ‘Farmer Producer Company’ together, let us know.

Today we will tell you the story of some such farmers of Ahmednagar in Maharashtra who not only experimented with new ideas in this time of trouble but also changed the time of crisis into opportunity. About a dozen farmers connected to this area through WhatsApp and came together under a scheme. In April 2020, they all connected to social media to make direct contact with consumers, rather than relying on traditional middlemen and buyers.

Nearly a year later, in 2021, the group has now become a community of 480 farmers and together these farmers have formed a company called ‘KisanKonnect’. Through this company, they sell their produce directly to customers. To connect directly with customers, it is planned to sell one lakh boxes of vegetables and set up a unit of Rs.6.6 crore.

The journey from 11 to 480

Delivering safe and hygienic vegetables during the lockdown.

Manish More, a 39-year-old farmer from Junnar and founding member of the group, says, “Farmers in the area were already in touch with each other on social media and were considering a solution.” Once the movement for essentials started, the 11 farmers together tried to create a digital market. ”

Manish has graduated in Agriculture and Business Management (B.Sc.). He has also worked with retail companies like Big Bazaar and Reliance. He says he was well aware of what these companies wanted from the farmers. Manish says that he was also aware of the policies of the company, which are not always in favor of the farmers. Manish told The Better India that food producers are not always able to give a complete list of vegetables demanded by corporates.

Manish had already quit his job and started farming in 2008. He says, “I tried to work with companies, but was never successful.” Due to his understanding of the market, he was able to understand the differences on both these levels very well. Rather than relying on retailers, he suggested other farmers reach consumers directly.

Says Manish, “In April, we started reaching out to many residential societies in Mumbai and Pune through our network. Gradually, other people started to know about us. We came in contact with 100 residential societies where we supply vegetable baskets every week without any middlemen. ”

Talking about this in detail, Manish says that boxes ranging from four kg to 12 kg are supplied. He says, “In different sizes of boxes, we were giving the same amount of vegetables in the same quantity. After this, apart from ‘Vegetable Baskets’, we started supplying ‘Fruit Baskets’ and ‘Immunity Baskets’ as well. There were many types of vegetables in the immunity basket, which help in improving the immune system of the body. ” Manish further adds, “We later started preparing the boxes as per the demand of the customers.”

Delivery of fresh vegetables within 24 hours

Farmer Producer Company

Another MBA farmer from Rahata in Ahmednagar district, Srikanth Dhokchavale, says that the concept of ‘direct selling concept’, selling products directly to customers, has removed middlemen. He says, “We created a new delivery model, under which we are safely packaging fruits and vegetables, delivering them in hygienic boxes to customers’ homes in less than 24 hours.”

Isha Chougule of Vile Parle says, “I was having a lot of trouble buying vegetables during the initial months of lockdown. Then a friend of mine told me about this company and advised to buy vegetables from here. For the last six months, I have become their regular customer. ”

Isha says that all orders placed on the website are delivered within the stipulated time and are hygienically packed. She explains, “My mother-in-law is 77 years old. That is why I have to take special care in terms of family safety and health. This company has never disappointed me. Compared to the vegetables available in the local market, the vegetables here are more fresh and healthy. ”

In the first month itself, the farmers got very good response, they did a business of 40 lakh rupees. Seeing this success, many farmers started joining them.

Sreekanth says, “The first six months, we operated through WhatsApp groups. After this, we found it difficult to take orders from a lot of customers simultaneously on WhatsApp. Then we contacted our IT sector friends and got the website set up so that customer orders could be easily taken there. ”

Farmer Producer Company
Marigold plantation at Shrikant’s farm

Srikanth explains that the ‘farm-to-doorsteps’ supply chain created by the farmers themselves, without any middlemen, has given them a different and new identity. He says, “Our income from this work has also increased because, now there is trade between the producer and the buyer.”

Currently, the company accepts orders from customers only through one of its mobile apps, websites and customer care centers. The custom care center has English-speaking staff, who previously worked in call centers in metro cities. The company has also leased a number of vehicles for logistics from local vendors.

Srikkanth says that this initiative is a good example of how farmers work together for their community in times of crisis and can solve the problem.

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Mirza Shehnaz
Shehnaz Ali Siddiqui is a Corporate Communications Expert by profession and writer by Passion. She has experience of many years in the same. Her educational background in Mass communication has given her a broad base from which to approach many topics. She enjoys writing around Public relations, Corporate communications, travel, entrepreneurship, insurance, and finance among others.
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