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Piloting Rain fed Farmers’ Cooperatives (RFCs)

A pilot project was initiated last year promoting 7 Rain-fed Farmers’ Cooperatives (RFCs) with 170 farmer members.

The objective was to explore how small & marginal rainfed farmers can achieve livelihood security in the drought prone Anantapuram district. The cooperative strategy includes:

  • reducing cost of cultivation by encouraging mutual cooperation among the members,
  • enhancing farm productivity by promoting intensive drought mitigation measures,
  • promoting Sustainable Agriculture practices and
  • diversifying livelihood portfolio to generate additional income of the rainfed farmers by integrating collective farming, off-farm and non-farm livelihood activities on a collective basis. 

During the reporting period the 7 RFCs continued their monthly savings regularly and built a capital of Rs. 3,74,250 for meeting small financial needs of farm activities. 

Among the 7 RFCs, 4 cooperatives (Konampalli, Seegalapalli, Devadulakonda, and Kalagalla), initiated Off-farm and Non-farm livelihood activities like rearing lambs, harvesting and semi processing Tamarind  and starting a Seed business. Three RFCs took up rearing of lambs and were successful in running the collective business activity. Each of those RFCs made a net profit ranging from Rs 26,000/- to Rs 74,000/-. The members felt that the amount of net profit was not at the expected level due to severe shortage of fodder during the summer, leading to poor weight gain of the animals and which led to a lesser price for the animals in the market. But, the members were convinced that this activity can be highly profitable during the coming monsoon period with good rains in September and success of Contingency Crops that assures good fodder yields.
 
One RFC (Seegalapalli village) that took up Tamarind business incurred a net loss of Rs 16,300/-. The members of RFC have analyzed the reasons for the loss and found the reasons to be low yield from some trees, slow processing rate and long distances in reaching the leased-in orchards causing high transportation expenses. The members, however, felt confident that the learning can be incorporated in the coming season and they would be able to move towards a successful business and good returns.

Another RFC (Palabavi village) took up millet seed business and earned marginal income of around Rs 2,500/- for this period. 

With the implementation of livelihood activities, the RFC members gained hands-on experience, both on internal group management and on understanding market dynamics, and are more confident about handling the next business cycle. A two day training program from 31st july to 1st Aug, 2015 was conducted for members of Executive Committees of 6 RFCs involving experienced resource persons. The topics included principles of collective business activities and the opportunities and challenges  associated with farmers’ collectives. This was done using the experiences of the cooperative members who took up the collective business activities during the previous year.
 

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