— by Prime Abhilas ; Badonaik Foundation would keep its shoulder to the wheel, making unfeigned efforts to ameliorate the situation of rural hoi polloi in southern Odisha. For meliorating the livelihood prospects of local farmers, the Badonaik Foundation is excogitating to effectuate a small pilot project with the objective of promoting livelihoods through skill and entrepreneurship development. The pilot aims to set up a Farmer’s Producer Organisation (FPO) at Kandhamal district of Odisha, to build an integrated livelihoods project with organic turmeric farming, processing & packaging unit and sales and business promotion architecture.
Owing to its health benefits, turmeric has a long legacy of being used as a preventive, healing and body rejuvenating essential spice in India and abroad. The key active ingredient of turmeric, ‘curcumin’ has multiple life-enhancing properties and is packed with powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, this Ayurvedic healer and immunity booster has become immensely popular.
Kandhamal has got Geographical Indication (GI) tag for its turmeric. It fetches high value in the market, thus unfolds a unique business opportunity for the producers and processors of turmeric. However, the hard-working farmers are unable to capture the benefits fully with entry of money lenders in the mid of the value chain. The Badonaik Foundation envisages to set up a small FPO to make farmers owners of the entire value chain and share the benefit among all the members.
The proposition of ‘Farm2Brand’ concept is to mobilize few needy farmers for organic farming of Kandhamal Haldi (turmeric of Kandhamal district). Subsequently, the FPO would assist in capacity building, monitoring for organic farming to obtain organic certification and providing financial assistance through advances to some farmers.
Some of the local populace will be trained to be members of ground sales force, who will visit homes and direct-sell products. The established relationship can be used in future to expand into selling of many other products in future, conducting market surveys, etc. Another aspect is formation of entrepreneurial ability and spirit among these rural habitants, franchise or distributorship may be explored in small towns for selling various turmeric products.
Another innovative aspect is training youngsters in digital marketing. Now-a-days, online sales channels is one of the business development/ sales channels and digital marketing can be promoted through social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Signal, Telegram, etc. Further some other members will be trained to develop digital content (photographs, videos, etc.) for sales promotion. The contents could include the organic farms of farmer members, their training process, organisational culture of the FPO, glimpses of the processing plant, digital marketing methods, etc. Developing a community owned brand and brand positioning for the organic turmeric products that capture and highlight the essence of local tribal culture of Kandhamal would be another innovation.
Various ‘financial inclusion products’ will be integrated with the FPO’s core activities that would help members and their families in times of need. These would include linking bank account with insurance products (life & health), conversion some of their dividend into higher interest-bearing savings instruments and retirement products.
Besides mobilizing needy farmers to join the social enterprise for organic farming and registering as a cooperative society or farmer producer company, the local SHG (Self Help Group) members can be trained on sales and branding. Later this pilot project can be scaled up by expanding it to Gajapati and other southern Odisha regions and by adding more products in the portfolio besides Haldi, such as Jack Fruits, Raggi (Finger Millet), Flax seeds, Flower (dry flower for fragrance), Ashwagandha etc.
Once this model stabilizes and becomes self-sufficient, the Foundation can make concepts and package such as ‘living in an organic farmhouse’ and witnessing the tribal, traditional, indigenous culture of Odisha, where cultural activity like dances, traditional handicraft, desi dishes, unique tribal items will be promoted. Ensuring to have flora fauna and giving the tourists an experience of living inside a farm house. Through this promotion of eco-tourism, the tourists would be showcased the whole concept of how the FPC operates and how social welfare of the local inhabitants is being taken care of.
(With the esemplastic power of his great mind, Dr. Nabin Badonaik founded the Badonaik Foundation. A philanthropist who served as a Lecturer and Consultant Clinical Microbiologist at the University Hospital, University of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica, Dr. Badonaik’s cynosure was health, education, environmental protection and succoring the destitute.
Accentuating on his vision, the Bodonaik Foundation was legally registered as a charitable trust in May 2020 to address healthcare, educational, environmental conservation issues among others.
The writer, is currently serving as Programme Manager (R&D) of Centre for Environment & Development (CED), the National Key Resource Centre for Ministry of Drinking Water & Sanitation, & Regional Resource agency for Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change.
(The writer, a legal consultant of Universal Allied Advocates, can be reached at– firstname.lastname@example.org)