India Exchange Visit

CRS to Kazhi Kadaimadai Farmers Federation – Tamil Nadu, India

Claire Hancock and KKFF members

Kazhi Kadaimadai Farmers Federation (KKFF) is another RAFFS PLP partner which works to provide livelihood support to farmers and communities affected by the 2004 tsunami. CRS’s visit was focused on three mains areas of KKFF’s work: agro-advisory services,  microfinance and marketing. Despite being continents apart, CRS and KKFF operate with similar ecological and crop-production systems and are using similar methodologies in farmer field schools (particularly focused on paddy rice production) and savings and credit groups. The main differences between KKFF and CRS’s programs are due to an “enabling environment”. Agriculture is a high priority in India, and there is a high level of subsidized Government support for inputs, credit and insurance. 

Main Lessons Learned

1) Independent, transparent and evolving farmer organizations
Many agencies, including CRS, help develop and establish farmer organizations. However, KKFF has become independent of its founding donor agency and currently operates as a stand-alone organization. KKFF receives revenue from the individual farmer groups for the services it offers on a annual subscription-for-services basis. Over time, KKFF has also evolved the services it provides to farmers based on their needs, for example, moving from providing credit to providing insurance.
These three  points – independent, transparent and evolving – are key to the development of sustainable farmer organizations and should be replicated by other agencies seeking to develop farmer organizations in their own contexts.

2) Innovative technologies and strategic partnerships 

Accessing Market Information via Mobile Phone

KKFF, in partnership with Ekagaon Technologies, provides mobile phones to farmers to help them access insurance as well as  market information. Other agencies could learn from these experiences to adapt or pilot new technology to bring agricultural development (and food security) to smallholder farmers. It is important to recognize one’s own skills and consider partnering with other organizations that might be more conversant with new technologies and have ready capabilities in these areas.

3) Warehouse receipts and delayed marketing 

KKFF Warehouse with Rice Storage

Delayed marketing is an aim of most smallholder farmers, so that they can sell their crops when demand (and prices) are higher. However, the pressing demand for access to credit to pay off debts that have mounted during the growing season means that farmers are often forced to sell their crop as soon as they harvest it — often  at a lower price or in an unfavorable exchange with moneylenders. KKFF is experimenting with delayed marketing and is planning to implement warehouse receipt schemes, where farmers can deposit their harvest in a secure store and either receive cash or a credit voucher that is recognized by local banks.

This system could potentially have a substantial affect on food security.  However, there are challenges that must be solved, such as providing adequate storage, convincing banks to accept warehouse receipts and asessing the viability of the market. Agencies planning to embark on schemes like this should be cognizant of the potential positive impact on food security, as well as the associated risks and challenges.



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