Varanasi/New Delhi: Grameen Foundation India (GFI) launched a special initiative ‘Catalyst Award’ under its MANDI (Market Enabled Access through Digital Innovation) project to support and develop the farmer producer organisations (FPOs) in Uttar Pradesh.
Speaking at the event, Prabhat Labh, Chief Executive Officer, GFI said, “Smallholder farmers, especially women, play the most critical role in ensuring food security in Uttar Pradesh. Grameen’s endeavour is to recognise the role of women smallholder farmers, and support them through linkage to markets, technology and finance in order to increase their incomes.”
The MANDI project aims to strengthen the FPO’s capacity to connect smallholder farmers, especially women, to markets and finance, in order to improve farmers’ incomes and resilience. It predominantly works on four thematic areas such as financial linkage, access to market, FPO capacity building on day-to-day operation and compliance, and gender mainstreaming. It also focuses on leveraging data for decision-making and facilitates need-based modern technologies. The MANDI project is implemented by GFI in partnership with Walmart Foundation.
The Catalyst Award is a financial assistance programme being offered to select FPOs to support their long term institutional strengthening and growth. The financial assistance being extended to the FPOs would help them in serving their members, particularly women and smallholder farmers in a better and organised manner. The awards were given at a one-day workshop organised on Monday, November 29, 2021, on “FPO strengthening through Gender Mainstreaming” at the Shatabdi Krishi Prekshagrih, Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi.
Addressing the participants, Mahendra Singh, Joint Director, Agriculture, Government of Uttar Pradesh said, “FPOs can become business entities serving needs of small and marginal farmers and focusing on women participation. FPOs should focus on market and financial linkages to benefit shareholder farmers.”
The day also saw the launch of another initiative on which GFI is collaborating with ICRISAT (International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics). Under the collaboration, it has developed a support fund for the FPCs (Farmer Producer Companies) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic mainly to cope better with the situation brought on by the pandemic. FPC support fund (FSF) is being given for the promotion and expansion of business activities being conducted by registered FPCs promoted under the MANDI project. A total amount of INR 4.5 lakh will be given to the FPCs.
The overall objective is to provide immediate support to FPCs which will help the project beneficiaries cope better with the pandemic while building resilience and bringing things back on track is by providing access to working capital to the farmers through the FPCs, so that the farmers can continue with their farming operations uninterruptedly. This will also help FPCs for strengthening of business activities, innovative product and services design and delivery which will help the farmer members of FPCs. The program is implemented through GFI’s subsidiary Grameen Foundation for Social Impact (GFSI) with support from ICRISAT and would cover four districts of Ghazipur, Varanasi, Mirzapur and Prayagraj and would benefit about 11,500 farmers.
This event is part of a series of activities being organised by the GFI for generating awareness among the stakeholders of FPOs and creating an ecosystem to foster women’s empowerment in agriculture. It aims to sensitize stakeholders on increasing women’s participation in decision-making and in the entire FPO value chain.
About 146 attendees representing FPOs, experts from financial technology, markets and convergence participated in the event and subsequent workshop. In addition, the workshop was attended by Gopesh Tewari, Head (Education-South Asia), International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Shyam Kumar, Manager – SCIFI, Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow (IIM-L); Anuj Kumar Singh, AGM, National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD); Dr Ramesh Chandra, Director, Institute of Agriculture Sciences, BHU; Dr B Jirli, HOD – Extension, Institute of Agriculture Sciences, BHU; Dr Anupam Kumar Nema, Associate Professor, Institute of Agriculture Science, BHU; Dr Narendra Kumar Raghuvanshi, KVK – Head and representatives from export company Universe Exports, Dehaat, Punjab National Bank, Childfund International to name a few.
The companies such as Blue Soils, UPPRO (State Level Federation of FPOs of Uttar Pradesh), EF Polymer also displayed their products and services.