Standing by our farmers during COVID-19

Standing by our farmers during COVID-19

Standing by our farmers - Procurement during COVID-19

Author:Nayanika Kandula
Read time: 3min

From migrants forced to walk thousands of kilometers home, to farmers sitting on their freshly harvested Rabi crops with nowhere to sell, the country wide lockdown in attempts to contain spread of COVID-19 has had a degree of disturbance like nothing before. For a company like ours, whose market presence is directly related to the financial health of our farmers, the rural is as integral as the urban. Our NPM (Non Pesticide Management) practicing farmers are the stakeholders with whom we have built relationships over the years and they hold strong faith in us for our ethical buying practices. Having these 1,00,000 farmers spread across 10 different states and 22 districts clearly means that our procurement team travels far and wide to ensure that the processes goes on smoothly. With the lockdown’s restrictions on travel and the harvest season getting closer and closer, we obviously had a challenge - how do we procure?

The options for farmers were bleak. Mandis were entirely shut and their local traders also closed shop. But farmers were yet to sell their produce. While large farmers can consider storage, the small and marginal farmers that we work with do not have the luxury of ample space and scientific storage methods to ensure that their produce stays uncontaminated. It’s obvious that at times like this, our partner farmers needs us more than ever. It was hence, decided that with the support and help of our FPO partners on the field, procurement would continue like always, only in a more cautious and distanced manner.

Images from our village level procurement centre in Gujarat

Starting in Gujarat, in the district of Narmada where our Moong Dal comes from, our team travelled across all the 10 states to ensure procurement happens from all of the farmers we are committed to. Not only were farmers paid a price higher than the local Mandi but also were sent complete payments all in the matter of one week.

Intimacy with the partner farmers over the years aided us understand what this income from their Rabi harvest means for them and their families. This income is very crucial for the payment of the fees for their children’s new academic year, for the inputs required for the next Kharif crop, for their day to day expenses and most importantly, for adding a portion of this income to their savings to be prepared for a rainy day. With the COVID outbreak, these rainy day savings seemed too uncertain for most of these families.

Our farmers and the FPOs they belong to are more than just a part of our supply chain. They are the ones who believed in our pesticide-free mission since day 1 and have been nothing short of partners for us in our journey as a social enterprise. We are proud to have built such strong relationships with our FPOs who today, in the wake of a crisis, have come to help us with logistics in any which way they can. As the country continue to grapple with the pandemic, our hope remains that our farmers stay safe, healthy and have an assured source of income through Safe Harvest, come what may.