In a country like India, where a chunk of the population is still dependent on agriculture, producer organisations are becoming increasingly key to agri-growth. They improve supply, marketing of produce, optimise costs, etc. The wholly women-comprised Aaranyak Agri Producer Company Limited (AAPC) in Bihar has established a farmer-centric model that the rest of the country could emulate. With funding and technical assistance through JEEViKA , a World Bank programme in partnership with the government of Bihar, AAPC members cut out exploitation by local intermediaries and established themselves as a force to reckon with in the agri-trade space.
JEEViKA, that has been around for a decade now, has mobilised nine million women farmers. Getting organised helped the women lower costs and give production a significant fillip. Over the last decade, groups under the JEEViKA umbrella have saved more than $120 million and raised $800 million from banks as loans—contrast this with small farmers’ poor access to formal finance. Digital technologies have been roped in—AAPC farmers receive regular updates on their mobile phones on weather and daily prices. Further, the use of digital moisture metres to test the quality of crops has been institutionalised, bypassing the arbitrary quality testing by local traders. AAPC is now registered with the National Commodity Exchange. Other states must also focus on organising farmers to provide direct access to markets and give a boost to their incomes through digital adoption.