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Puthari Farmer Producer Company Ltd, Financially Funded by NABARD and Technically Supported by KVK, an Incredible support to KODAGU farmers !

Dr. Lakshmi Unnithan
Dr. Lakshmi Unnithan

The Interventions of KVK Gonikoppal and Puthari FPO came into limelight after their huge contribution in helping farmers at the time of COVID-19. They stepped in at the right time to support their farmers and the measures adopted were challenging indeed and were a huge relief to the farmers and consumers. The huge Extension support provided has helped me put things into perspective as to how KVKS and FPOS can rise to the situation even when the whole system is at stand still. At the time of COVID-19 they were constantly in touch with farmers from other regions who wanted to sell vegetables and were an incredible support to them.

A few like–minded farmers got together and formed PUTHARI FARMER PRODUCER COMPANY LTD says Raghu Cariappa, The Managing Director, and FPO. With technical support from Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Gonikoppal and financial Support from NABARD, this Company was formed. The farmers are shareholders and also in the management positions of the FPO.

The produce grown by the farmers were sold in the open and they weren’t aware of market rates and always depended on middlemen for buying inputs and marketing their produce and as a result they always had losses. The main reason for formation of the Puthari Farmer Producer Company was to bring the farmer producers together and provide them with a platform for marketing their crops for a better price.

Krishi Vigyan Kendra Gonikoppal, provided office space and other infrastructural support for the company to start functioning and is supporting us till date says Raghu Cariappa. Farmers initially were a little hesitant, but soon what started as 45 became a group of 850 in no time. The technical support they get from KVK has to be mentioned says Raghu Cariappa. The KVK and officials of IIHR also conduct trainings to farmers at free of cost. The main crops in this region being coffee and arecanut and spices. Approximately the total holding of coffee plantation (including inter planting of pepper) by there are roughly about 3000 acres. 

The major objectives of the PUTHARI FARMERS PRODUCER CO LTD are:

  1. Collective marketing of Farmers produce at the best price option
  2. Eliminating middle men who control product pricing
  3. Assist the Farmers in marketing their producer directly to the seller/buyer to get a just price.
  4. Capacity building of the farmers on better productivity, updated technology, storage practices, grading, packing etc., to add value to their produce for better income.
  5. Providing agricultural input supplies like fertilizers, pesticides, lime, agricultural implements, etc., at lower than market costs.
  6. Providing technical expertise and guidance to the farmers for growing their crops.
  7. Create a stronger market for Coffee and Pepper, and other produce through value addition and make our industry a “profitable Profession” which will in turn encourage the younger generation to look at agricultural industry as a sustainable Profession.
  8. To develop the local economy and quality of life of individual producers

AGRI INPUT OUTLET

There is an agri input outlet of Puthari FPO which was initiated in September 2017 which is located at KVK Campus. On an average about 40 to 50 farmers come and purchase inputs  like vegetables seeds, pesticides, fungicides, and plant nutrients like water soluble fertilizer, which are critical for maintaining plantation crops such as coffee and pepper. Apart from these agricultural machines – weed cutters, small farm implements, harvesting ladders – are also available in the outlet.

Farmers used to purchase farm inputs at considerably higher rates, making it uneconomical for the farmer due to high input costs. Further fertilizers and other inputs were not available to the farmer at the right season. So with a view to address these concerns, the company opened its Retail Store and commenced sales of Dolomite, Pesticides, Coffee bags, shade nets picking mats and other implements, at prices well below the prevailing market prices, thus benefitting the farmers. The FPO now buys it directly from manufactures so that they could give it to farmers at a lesser rate.

At the same time the outlet is also facilitating farmers in selling their animal products like eggs, thus providing an outlet to market these items, which have also suffered a price crash during this period.

Future Plans in extending the marketing of fruits and vegetables directly from farmers

NABARD had already decided to fund a rural mart for the FPO, but this lockdown has informally kicked the process by itself. The FPO has begun to market fruits and vegetables that was a great help to the farmers and to the consumers. The FPO is marketing it directly to places like COORG and MYSURU where they weren’t able to get a steady supply of vegetables due to the COVID-19 crisis. The farmers are quite happy as the FPO offered them higher prices while purchasing directly from them. The rural mart is functioning in the KVK.

It is very interesting to know about the Coffee marketing details from the Managing Director himself. The FPO is looking forward to the coffee marketing initiative taken up from this year. The farmers have been asked to aggregate and give coffee and he says already they have collected 1000 bags (50 tonnes) of coffee from its members. These are cured in a cooperative curing works at Hunsur operated by the Kodagu Coffee Growers Cooperative Society. From there this coffee could be auctioned to different kinds of buyers National and International with support from the Coffee Board. This could be the first initiative from an FPO and is very challenging says Raghu Cariappa. Here they ensure complete traceability to the product as the farmers are always linked to the FPO. He also adds that they are grown in a very ecofriendly way under the perfect agro ecological zone.

All the intiatives for the farmers have instilled in them a confidence and the farmers have identified the FPO as a place to market their produce and this instills hope in them to provide them higher returns.

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