At Valanadu one of our most important activities is to provide need based services to our shareholder farmers and others. The following are the services provided by us.
Procurement and sale of products from farmers
We procure products from our shareholders and find markets where we can sell these products for a good price. Currently, most of our marketing is wholesale with minimal retail marketing. The products we procure include rice (different varieties), pulses and value-added products (like vadagam, appalam and podis). Our procurement committee sets standards for the products that are to be procured. The price is also fixed by the committee. We make sure that the farmers get a better price than the market price. We procure both organic and Non Pesticide Management (NPM) products. We also procure seeds (certified and truthfully labelled), vermicompost and other bio-products from farmers who produce them and sell it to members and non-members. We have different pricing for members and non-members.
Milk Collection Centre
Valanadu has been working with women SHGs for agriculture allied activities such as rearing of milch animals, vermicompost, biopesticides, palm products preparation, rice based value added products etc.
For milch animal activity, most women have cows at home and they have experience in maintenance of milch animals. Most of the women earn an additional income through sale of milk and vermicompost. On an average, each woman having a cow was able to earn Rs. 1700 through sale of milk per month and Rs.750 through vermicompost. But due to issues with local vendors, they were not getting income every month regularly. Payments were delayed and hence, they found it difficult to repay loans obtained through banks.
In order to address this issue, Valanadu staff team and board decided to set up milk collection centres in two places viz. Allivilagam and Kondal villages in Sirkazhi taluk. Three women VABDSP’s were made in charge to collect the milk using lactometer for assured quality. Totally 250 litres are collected from 72 women shareholders every day and sold at Sirkazhi. Each woman is getting an assured price – Rs.25 / litre and the company pays the amount on 30th of every month. This activity was started as pilot trial in the first week of June 2015 and this has attracted 92 consumers. They have paid Rs.500 as deposit for getting pure farm fresh milk at their doorstep.
Getting access to loans at the right time is becoming extremely difficult for small and marginal farmers. Besides this, to avail institutional loans collaterals are becoming mandatory. Unless these farmers are provided loans at the right time they will not be able to carry out their farming operations effectively and get the desired outputs. Through our company we arrange loans for the shareholders through banking and non-banking financial institutions. Currently, a number of these institutions have come up with special programmes for providing loans to the producer companies. Our company stands guarantee to these loans and we make sure that the repayment happens as per schedule.
Aggregation of farm inputs
One of the important services that we provide to our shareholders is to enable them to get access to quality inputs at the correct time. Good quality seeds are very important and very often farmers get cheated with this input. He ends up buying seeds with poor quality germination or no germination and this affects his entire crop and yield. We aggregate the seed requirements of all our shareholders for different crops, identify dealers from whom these can be procured and bargain for a good price since the quantities are quite large. Farmers get good quality seeds at the right time for a reasonable price. Similarly, we also aggregate the requirements for farm inputs like neem seed powder, biofertilizers, vermicompost etc. and procure them for our farmers at a reasonable price.
For products to be authenticated as organic certification is very important. Currently, group certification for organic farmers is available which is affordable and accessible for small and marginal farmers. We help those members who are interested in obtaining organic certification and sell their products as certified organic. We train them on different standards that are to be followed for obtaining organic certification and also maintain different records that are required. Many of our members are also trained internal inspectors. We liaise with the certification agencies and make sure the scope certificate for organic certification is obtained every year.
We offer training on a variety of sustainable agricultural practices and also newer technologies in agriculture from time to time to our farmers. We help them to keep their knowledge updated with respect to farming operations. We also collaborate with Government departments, KVKs and other private agencies to organize frontline demonstrations with our members. Some of our members also maintain demonstration fields on sustainable agriculture technologies which serve as learning centres for other farmers.
Insuring the crop against vagaries of climate is extremely important for farmers as a risk management strategy. Most farmers in their individual capacity find it difficult to make sure that their crops are insured. We help identify the right insurance product for the specific crop and enable our farmers to get their crops insured. When compensation claims have to be made we also make sure that this is facilitated.
We help organize veterinary camps in villages to enable our members to get their cattle treated for various ailments and also get various vaccinations done. This again is done in collaboration with the Government departments.
Agriculture Machinery Facilitation Centres (AMFC)
We have established Agriculture Machinery Facilitation Centres (AMFCs) to address the problem of lack of availability of labour for agricultural operations. Necessary records for the Centre are maintained. Members are allow to utilize the machineries at an affordable rent and the rent collected by the Centre is being used for the maintenance and purchase of additional equipment as necessary. Apart from the members, non-members are also being offered an opportunity to use the machinery. Our members feel that this AMFC is the answer for reduced cost of cultivation, increased yields and for the issue of labour scarcity in agriculture. This has been received very well by our members.
We also provide support and help to interested members to start setting up microenterprises. We help evolve a business plan and help them get access to loans from banks. Support for technologies are also provided. If required, we also provide support in marketing the products. Some of the microenterprises for which be provide training are vermicompost units, rice based value added products units, biopesticides and biofertilisers units etc.