HYDERABAD: Wonders can happen when farmers come together to make collective decisions for their benefit. And hence, “united we stand, divided we fall” is presumably the best tag line for Kollapur Farmers Producer Company Limited.
The organisation has been helping scores of farmers in distress for quite some time now, with support from the State government and financial institutions.
When Srinivas Kumar, a social worker, started the initiative in a small way in 2015, even he did not expect that it would one day become a powerful force of ryots. Soon after its inception, about hundred farmers belonging to ST communities such as Chenchus and Lambadas in Kollapur and surrounding villages, came on board and formed a collective to develop mango orchards in their lands.
Currently, there are about 639 members registered with the Farmer Producer Organisation (FPO), who have been availing financial assistance through various sources. Their first achievement was developing a 1,252-acre mango orchard by using drip irrigation.
With support from NABARD and the Union Ministry for Tribal Affairs’ scheme for Tribal FPOs, being implemented in the State by the Tribal Welfare Department through Telangana Scheduled Tribes Cooperative Finance Limited (TRICOR), these farmers are currently doing multiple things for collective development.
Apart from building a godown with a capacity of 500 metric tonnes, they also set up a groundnut processing unit, a mango-ripening unit with two chambers, neem powder processing unit and a custom hiring centre with tractor and accessories such as rotavator and cultivator, which are being rented out at a subsidised rate.
These were all made possible with Rs 35 lakh assistance from TRICOR, Rs 18 lakh that they took as Nabkisan loan and Rs 20 lakh as Samunnati finance loan.
After obtaining a business license, they set up a fertiliser, seeds and pesticides shop in Kollapur. For this, Srinivas Kumar says that each member contributed Rs 1,000 as share capital, as a result of which they got Rs 6.39 lakh in total to establish the unit. The profits are hence distributed among the farmers as per their share of capital.
“In last summer, we tested mango ripening and it was successful. Next year, we will encourage ryots in Kollapur to get their mangoes naturally ripened here itself, without having to go to Hyderabad,” Srinivas adds.
The FPO also wanted to procure paddy directly from farmers the last season so that they could get a two per cent commission, which can be used to pay salaries to their staff. However, they did not get permission.