Thursday, May 1, 2014
This trip prodded me to seek a long lasting solution that would allow farmers’ to clean, sort and grade their fresh produce at a facility nearby their villages. The solution lies in the creation of rural subsistence marketplaces or “Grameen Kalyan Kendras” located among a cluster of villages.
Grameen Kalyan Kendra (Village Development Center) is a procurement platform designed to serve as rural hub for commerce, and facilitate new business opportunities for individual farmers at a village cluster level. These procurement platforms will have ample covered space for farmers to showcase their harvest and produce to traders and wholesalers, and negotiate mutually-beneficial business transactions. These Kendras may serve the ancillary needs of the village and local administration as venue for social events like marriages, medical check-up and vaccination camps, as well as relief distribution centers during natural disasters.
Each facility can be equipped with electricity connection, overhead water tanks, wash bins, electronic weighing machines and dedicated loading bays for small trucks. Proper drainage, overhead street lights and paved roads will add further utility to these Kendras. Grameen Kalyan Kendra can be equipped with a laptop computer and internet connection (via cell phone) to help farmers with timely and accurate information about rainfall and drought conditions; the potential impact of these conditions on their crops and what they can do about it.
At SIGO, we appreciate the potential for commerce in rural India and recognize the urgent need for Grameen Kalyan Kendra at a village level. SIGO is committed to delivering a cost-effective, low-maintenance and high utility Grameen Kalyan Kendras. Our team of experienced engineers and professionals has the knowledge and expertise required in designing and constructing cost-effective Kendra.
My work on Post harvest losses led me to take a trip to Ludhauli, to see and understand the fresh produce value chain serving the city. I reached Ludhauli around 8 AM on a Sunday morning and noticed farmers’ bringing their fresh produce on mobikes, while labourers’ were carting heavier loads on the back of their bicycles. An odd milk producer had stacked several cans of milk on a cycle rickshaw and was lazily pedaling his way to the market.
The local chai shop had just got their first brew ready, and I was quick to order a hot and overly sweet chai to get my day started. I strolled around the area and found fresh bottle gourds and plantains neatly stacked on cycle rickshaws. Nearby vendors were sorting okra by separating tender green okra from the yellow colored or insect-infected ones and bagged separately. In the next stall, vendors were busy sorting eggplants by separating the dark colored eggplants from the light colored ones. Bags of tender fresh bitter gourds, bunches of green plantains, heaps of string beans and bright red tomatoes were a sight to see. Vendors could be seen dressing up their stalls while others were relaxing after setting up their merchandise. Some of the old guard that was late in picking up a spot could be seen jostling for space with the younger generation. I witnessed a farmer sell his produce and happily pocket his earnings. The saunter in his walk after making the sale was proof that he was happy with the transaction.
A walk around nearby stalls clearly showed that vendors preferred to setup stalls by the roadside. One stall had all green fresh produce; bottle gourds, bitter gourds, chillies, mint leaves, green pumpkins, string beans, okra and white radish. Labourers’ were busy packing fresh produce in nylon bags and covering the top with leaves. Packed goods were then loaded on to small pick-up trucks and three-wheeler tempos for Navin mandi, in Dubagga, Lucknow. The area was now bustling with activity and the local confectionary shop had opened with display of red jalebis and samosas. A push cart vendor pedaling chana chat was selling like hotcakes.
A few feet away from the national highway road, were two inconspicuous industrial sheds built for these vendors to transact their sales. The superstructure of the sheds was intact, but weeds and shrubs had grown all around the structure. The steel beams in one of the shed had succumbed to rust and seemed to be a popular resting place for stray dogs and vagabonds. I wondered if there was a reason behind constructing these sheds and if so, what could the possible causes behind its neglect. Answers to this question had as many answers, depending on whom you spoke to. A few transport operators complained that there were no public toilets and that farmers chased them when they went to the fields. By now, people had started taking notice of my camera and were mistaking me for a member of the press. A few individuals were turning hostile with my queries and I decided to wrap up my visit before things got out of hand.