Growing Success: 19 women-owned FPOs are providing agriculture-related services to farmers in Jharkhand

Women farmers in Jharkhand become joint owners of farmer producer organisations through the self-help groups they are a part of. They sell quality agricultural goods to farmers at fair prices and also offer expert agricultural advice free of cost.

Neetu Singh
| Updated: March 2nd, 2021

Photo: JSLPS Jharkhand

Neelima Muramu from Giridih district, Jharkhand said she never imagined that she would ever be on the board of directors of a company. But today, she is, and holding the key position of a treasurer in the board of directors of the Girdhan Mahila Utpadak (Producer) Company. 

It all began when three years ago the 36-year-old farmer became a part of a Sakhi Mandal (self-help group or SHG) in order to reap the benefits of its many schemes, for which she had to pay Rs 10 every week to the SHG.  

Within a year, in 2019, women farmers who were members of the SHG formed a Farmer Producer Organisation (FPO) where she became the treasurer. There are 19 such companies being run in the state by women. Through the agrimarts they set up, they sell quality agricultural goods to farmers at fair prices and also offer expert agricultural advice free of cost.  

Also Read: Half the farmers unaware of FPOs, majority of them are small and marginal farmers: Gaon Connection Survey

“Our company opened an Agrimart a month ago that provides seeds, fertilisers and small farming equipment to farmers at rates lower than the market price,” said Muramu. These agrimarts have been opened by various agricultural producer companies which are run by women farmers of Jharkhand as part of a World Bank initiative called Jharkhand Opportunities for Harnessing Rural Growth Project (JOHAR). 

JOHAR Jharkhand

JOHAR is particularly beneficial to women in the state. According to a brief by the World Bank, over 3,500 FPOs are expected to benefit from this project. And, women especially will be a big number of the beneficiaries of the scheme in the areas of production, processing and marketing of agricultural produce.

Also Read: Farmers in Jharkhand’s Khunti forgo opium cultivation, embrace lemongrass

JOHAR builds on the strong institutional platform of women’s self-help groups established in the state under the World Bank supported National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM). The Jharkhand State Livelihood Promotion Society under the department of rural development enables this project through farming, animal husbandry, fisheries, irrigation, etc. Rural households are linked with producer groups and companies. 

“Our Agrimart serves women farmers of more than 160 groups who come to take goods and seek agricultural advice,” said Muramu. 

Eleven agrimarts are currently operating in 11 districts of Jharkhand and have, so far, benefited more than 4,000 farmers. The agrimarts together, are doing business worth over Rs 700,000 annually.  

“I was often duped by shopkeepers who sold me date-expired seeds or overcharged me,” Yashodha, a member of another FPO in Madhupur, Giridih district, told Gaon Connection. “We have opened a JOHAR Agrimart so that other women farmers do not face the hardships that we faced,” she said. 

This agrimart is fast becoming the first choice of the local farmers who now do not have to go far to buy reliable seeds and other agricultural materials.  

“For my paddy crop, I procured seeds and fertilisers from JOHAR Agrimart at a price almost 10 per cent lower than the market rate. My paddy crop has been abundant. More recently, I grew chilli from seeds from the agrimart and had a good yield from that too,” Yashodha pointed out. 

More than 2.10 lakh households in Jharkhand are linked to 3,900 farmer producer groups in 68 blocks from 17 districts of Jharkhand.  

Enhancing farming techniques

JOHAR Agrimart also provides consultations to farmers on how to enhance the quality and techniques of cultivation. The agrimart links farmers to technical advisors through WhatsApp. These advisors help farmers with farming information and are available to them between 10.30 am and 5 pm every day.  Every agrimart links its farmers to the Krishak Mitra (farmer-aides) through WhatsApp groups and the farmers are able to receive information and support by simply sharing messages with the technical team.

Read the story in Hindi.