In rural Jharkhand, poverty breeds a vicious cycle of more poverty, killing ambition and isolating people from the mainstream. It renders people unemployed, underemployed or unemployable. How can one make villagers believe in themselves? With retail therapy, of course! For KGVK, linking rural people to the market through its Trade Facilitation Centre, through farm and non-farm enterprises, was more than an economic activity. Its agenda was greater: to develop a sustainable business model for socio-economic solutions. So that people regain their identity through enterprise.
KGVK realized that micro-enterprises create employment, reduce poverty and accelerate inclusive growth, bridging the divide between Bharat and New India. To develop a robust rural economy, KGVK decided to create local entrepreneurs in its command areas. If the crafts and crops of villagers filled shopping bags far and near, it would fill stomachs with food, bank accounts with savings and hearts with pride.
That’s how KGVK’s Trade Facilitation Centre (TFC), supported by International Finance Corporation (World Bank Group), Washington, was born.
TFC emphasizes on:
- Developing a spirit of entrepreneurship at the community level through community-based organizations (CBOs) like self-help groups (SHGs)
- Training CBO members through appropriate technology to produce farm and on-farm items for sale
- Giving rural entrepreneurs access to bank loans and micro-credit
- Enabling rural producers (especially women) to access local and institutionalized markets for their produce
- Monitoring logistics as well as whether rural entrepreneurs get a fair market price
TFC's activities centred on:
- Providing the best tried and tested inputs for farm and non-farm activities
- Providing technical support with relevant best production practices, such as performing a soil and water analysis of a particular area before introducing a crop, increasing crop yields for traditional crops through techniques like System of Rice Intensification (SRI), organizing exposure visits for manufacturers/growers, among others
- Introducing diverse items for market production — vetiver, jatropha, baby corn, phenyl, leaf plates, candles, among others
- Supporting producers logistically before and after production
- Preparing a detailed business plan on a cash-to-cash model through surveys on products with high cash value and passing the findings the KGVK field members, so that they could help villagers and sahayogis choose from among the suggested high-value products to make/grow
- Forming SHGs and training them on best growing/ manufacturing practices based on the hands-on workshop mode
- Monitoring the activities of farmers and SHGs regularly
- Buying out the entire produce and linking it up with the market, ensuring a fair price from local markets and outlets like the Ranchi Gymkhana Club, Usha Martin Group canteen, among others
1. Vetiver production
- Vetiver, a fragrant grass which grows mat-like, preventing water and soil erosion, was cultivated both for reasons of enterprise and ecology.
- Market linkage was forged between vetiver growers and Usha Martin Limited, the latter giving a 100% buyback assurance.
2. Corn cultivation
- Sweet and baby corns were cultivated on a trial basis in farms at Ranchi and Jamshedpur on 40 acres.
- Corn seeds were distributed to farmers, who were also trained on cultivation techniques.
3. Jatropha cultivation
- Cultivation of jatropha was carried across 150 acres for bio-fuel generation.
- Agricultural fields were fenced with jatropha to save crops from stray animals.
4. Manufacture of non-farm items
- Non-farm items like industrial gloves were made exclusively by women's SHGs to cater to nearby manufacturing units.
Round the corner!
The Trade Facilitation Centre is seriously working on:
- Exploring more market linkages across the state
- Increasing farm and non-farm produce in terms of volume and range
- Increasing cultivation of corn from 40 to 100 acres; vetiver from 10 to 45 acres and jatropha from 70 to 200 acres across Ranchi and Jamshedpur
- Linking farm produce to Usha Martin's canteens
- Setting up a distillation plant at Ranchi for aromatic plants like vetiver and a cold storage unit for vegetables
- Investing in commercial production of medicinal plants