To make farming financially viable and sustainable for farmers and to provide healthy, affordable food to the consumers.

To make farming financially viable and sustainable for farmers and to provide healthy, affordable food to the consumers.

India
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

To reclaim agriculture using scientific and sustainable bio-resource activities for all farmers irrespective of their farm size and to restore harmony between rural and urban life. This will also serve as a platform for innovation and imparting/sharing of skills. Farmers First Foundation aspires to make agriculture and related skills viable thereby restoring dignity and dynamism to rural life.

About You
Location
Project Street Address

Farmers First Foundation, D-311(Ground Floor), Sarvodya Enclave, New Delhi, India

Project City

Delhi

Project Province/State

Delhi

Project Postal/Zip Code

110017

Project Country
Your idea
Country your work focuses on:

India

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What stage is your project in?

Operating for 1-5 years

What is the average monthly household income in your target community, in US Dollars?

<$50

Innovation
Describe your idea in fewer than 50 words.

To reclaim agriculture using scientific and sustainable bio-resource activities for all farmers irrespective of their farm size and to restore harmony between rural and urban life. This will also serve as a platform for innovation and imparting/sharing of skills. Farmers First Foundation aspires to make agriculture and related skills viable thereby restoring dignity and dynamism to rural life.

What makes your idea unique?

The main objective of our NGO is to convert agriculture into a profit making and sustainable business model which is less risky as compare to conventional farming and where every farmer lives with dignity irrespective of its land holdings. Our NGO, FFF is currently in process of building model farms at different locations in India. In our farms, we promote organic and natural farming, train farmers, and invite eminent experts and thinkers in agriculture and rural development.
The Founders of FFF have extensive experience in agriculture, business, administration, international relations and trade, education and rural innovation. We even have collaboration with various premier institutes such as NDRI (National Dairy Research Institute), IHBT (Institute of Himalayan Bio-Resource and Technology), BARC (Bhabha Atomic Research Centre) and companies such as HSBC to get technical and business related inputs from various sources.
Our business plan is made keeping into consideration all the stakeholders involved which includes Farmers, Research institutes, Scientists, Banks and even consumers. To convert conventional farm into integrated/organic farm, farmers require loan and to achieve yearly targets of lending in priority sector, banks need to look for sources where risk and chances of bad debt is less and where source of income is certain. Hence, our NGO is giving both a reason to invest in agricultural sector by creating awareness among farmers about new and eco-friendly means of production.

What is your area of work? (Please check as many as apply.)

What impact have you had?

• Success in spreading the message in the village (Pathredi in Haryana city) which involves 60 farmers. Thus we realize that our model farms have infused enough confidence among the farmers to adopt our proposed techniques. This has also invigorated enthusiasm among the localities to work with us in our model farm.
• Meetings and seminars organized involving 100 farmers from 4 different states namely Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. This was attended by respected agricultural scientists and researchers. They also took part in the meeting preceding and answered general queries of the farmers. We believe that such seminars bridge a gap that is there between academicians and the grass root workers.
• We believe that we have been successful in bringing Dignity of Labour in the uneducated, unemployed youth in the rural areas. It is quite evident from the responses that after having seen our volunteers at the model farm and participation of scientists and researchers, youngsters gain a certain dignity to work on their own agricultural lands.
• FFF has provided a one stop place for farmers for learning any agricultural activities including dairy, poultry, fishery, crop production, vegetables, fruits etc. It becomes all the more important as previously farmer has to visit various organizations to learn each of the above mentioned activities.

Describe the primary problem(s) that your project is addressing.

The prime hurdle is to convince farmers to have faith in our proposed technique. We acknowledge that they are at risk because of less faith in anything which is not practically represented. Hence we have to develop model farms to prove our point, which takes around 16 months to complete the cycle. After having seen the whole cycle and increase in productivity and lesser costs involved, we have successfully gained their confidence. But still we have miles to go to spread our vision to farmers of whole of India. Thus spreading the message and sustaining the enthusiasm among the volunteers and member farmers is one goal that FFF constantly strives to achieve.

Describe the steps that your organization is taking to make your project successful.

• Setting up of model organic and monitored conventional farms in India to demonstrate and explain the benefits of integrated farming to farmers and to encourage them to adopt it. This will help them in taking all they can from the soil so that they make a profit and also putting back into the soil so as to maintain and increase its fertility.
• Collaboration with institutes and banks which acts as facilitator and mentor in our project so that technical expertise is easily available, gap between institute and actual user (farmers) is reduced, and banks are ready to give loans at reasonable rates to farmers. As the risk is low in integrated farming as compared to conventional methods of farming, it is easy to get loans for farmers where bank is also certain to get their money back.
• To make Self Help Groups of the farmers. We have already made a SHG of around 100 farmers where we are going to train them about various activities involved in integrated farming.

Impact
What will it take for your project to be successful over the next three years? Success in Year 1:

• To do profitability analysis in agriculture and to convince farmers about usefulness of organic way of farming.
• To train at least 100 farmers in this period and to encourage them to form Self-help Groups.
• To develop two more model farms in India and to apply for organic certification for these farms.
• Set up people’s tissue culture/gradation lab and distillator at each Model Farm for propagation of plants.
• Invite eminent experts and thinkers in agriculture and rural development to be honorary members. Organize a seminar on FFF’s vision, ideas, experience, lessons learnt etc. Outside experts to participate and critique.
• Find sponsors for funding/partnering development of Model Farms and to explore sponsorship for Skill Centres.

Success in Year 2:

• To help farmers in planning, pricing and marketing of their agricultural products and to promote integrated farming as the next revolution in this field.
• Train at least five trainers in: dairy management, beekeeping, essential oils, mushrooms, tissue culture, preparation and application of bio-pesticides, bio-fertilizers etc., and rabbitry.
• Build a network of external experts and start using the Model Farms as a platform for interactive learning and sharing of experience.
• Develop an FFF library and training manuals (English and Hindi) in each of the areas practiced at the Model Farms.
• Set up 5 Skill Centres with industry collaboration to train rural youth in skills such as construction, carpentry, agricultural implements, electrical and plumbing etc.
• To develop organic high breed seeds. This will also help in revenue generation for our NGO.

Success in Year 3:

• Go from 3 to 6 Model Open Farms including in 1-2 countries outside India.
• Link Model Farms and Skill Centres with integral education schools for children of farmers and rural artisans.
• Expand outreach and outlets; brand Farms First farm, lifestyle and health products; ‘farm/organic tourism’.
• Develop strategic partnerships with 5-10 corporates and institutions interested in welfare of farmers and craftsmen. Handover management of mature SCs and MFs to the strategic partners with a mutually decided role for SHGs.
• Use and demonstrate non-conventional energy resources at the Model Farms; do a carbon audit of Model Farm activities and demonstrate their eco-friendliness.

Do you have a business plan or strategic plan? (yes/no)

Our business plan is to create a platform to demonstrate economic viability of agriculture.

What are the three most important actions needed to grow your initiative or organization? STEP 1:

To convince farmers to adopt new ways of production is the most difficult task. We first need to find cost of production and profitability of agricultural products in integrated/organic farming and then to compare it with conventional farming. During this period, we need to continue giving training to farmers and to make them aware of the benefits of organic farming. Then after they adopt new methods of farming, we need to help them in planning, marketing and selling of their products and in forming cooperatives, self help groups so that they can market themselves. For farmers who are afraid and reluctant to change, we can convince them to do this on a small piece of their land and after they see results, they will definitely like to do the same on rest of their land.

What are the three most important actions needed to grow your initiative or organization? STEP 2:

We have an understanding signed with HSBC bank to become our partner and to provide funding to the farmers venturing in adopting our proposed model of farming. We aim to extend the collaboration with HSBC in the area of micro-financing and financially supporting self help groups promoted by FFF. Our long term goal is to integrate all the actors – FFF, farmers and HSBC bank to make the farming more sustainable and financially viable. This will make it a profitable venture for corporate like HSBC to get into the value chain and make the involvement viable.

What are the three most important actions needed to grow your initiative or organization? STEP 3:

To make efforts to increase our presence by continue building model farms in and outside India, imparting education/skill training to farmers by opening Skill centres. We also need to encourage farmers to setup model farms themselves and to sell natural, lifestyle and health products under the name of FFF. To achieve all this, we need to look for funds either in the form of donation or by making partnerships with farm land owners and corporates so as to continue in our mission of upliftment of farmers. In addition to this, we need to work to get their agricultural production insured.

Describe the expected results of these actions.

• This will make agriculture a profitable business where a farmer can hope to live a happy and prosperous life with dignity and where consumers can enjoy healthy and affordable food.
• Better standard of living and to reduce the number of suicides by farmers in our country.
• To reduce the problem of food shortage inside and outside our country.
• Revival of age old methods of farming which are environment friendly and sustainable.
• Easy access of Education and Training for all farmers and for the youth.
• Increase in quality and quantity of agricultural output by minimizing the wastages and reduction in time to travel from farmer to end customer.

What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?

• We realized that despite the green revolution and the current economic dynamism, agriculture sector is in pathetic conditions. Young farmers have lost confidence in agriculture as a viable economic activity and are leaving the land for factories and service jobs, which is ultimately creating unbalanced conditions.
• Scarce land, degraded soils, diminishing diversity, falling water tables. Decades of imposed ‘one size fits all’ solutions have undermined the innate belief of farmers that truly sustainable and viable bioresource activity has to be in harmony with nature.
• Due to inclination towards chemicals, the current practitioners and agricultural institutions have worked in such a way that gap between these institutions and farmers is widening which needs immediate rectification. Hence we started this to abridge this gap between them.
• Overstressing on chemicals usage we have distant ourselves from nature and now feeling the heat. The world all over is realizing the importance of natural ways of agriculture but somewhere it needs to propagated through enthusiasm and expertise.

Tell us about the social innovator behind this idea.

The social innovator behind this idea “Mr. Rajbir Singh", Msc. in Biochemistry, an entrepreneur-farmer turned to dairy farming and floriculture after more than 20 years of experience in marketing, civil construction, trading and leather garment manufacturing and export. He wants to dedicate the rest of his life to the wellbeing of those who have no unions, no voice and no assets. He wants them to find both the meaning and the livelihood and to restore the emotional link between the farmers and the land.
What sets him apart from many other do-gooders is that he does not theorize but takes action, achieves and builds things. In Sri Lanka he started developing a Model Farm at Gampaha district immediately after his arrival in May 2005. He took on the additional responsibility of developing a Model Farm at the Congress Labour Foundation (CLF) facilities in Nuwara Eliya district in February 2006 with the encouragement and assistance of the Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka. The farm was inaugurated by the Sri Lankan President H.E. Mahinda Rajapaksa on 18 March 2006 and now presents an impressive sight with separate sections on floriculture, vegetable growing, beekeeping, mushroom growing and herbal-aromatic plants cultivation.
His goal is to develop and demonstrate farming techniques in harmony with nature’s laws and rhythms. In fact, he believes that aligning productive activity with nature delivers maximum economic value.

How did you first hear about Changemakers?

Through SPJIMR (S.P Jain Institute of Management & research, Mumbai)DOCC committee, whose purpose is to facilitate closer ties between management students and socially active organizations.

Sustainability
What would prevent your project from being a success?

• Failure to develop closer ties with the government research institutions which are useful in authenticating our research and models developed, hence quickening up the process of adoption of the techniques by the farmers. We already have collaboration with Indian governmental institutions such as NDRI (National Dairy rural institution), IHBT(Institute of Himalayan Bio-Resource and Technology), BARC(Bhabha Atomic Research Centre) we further require ties with other government institutions.
• Basically we need financial institutions to become the part of the value chain and hence augmenting the services for the farmers in the value chain. Hence absence of close association of such kind can become a hurdle. These financial institutions such as HSBC bank provide valuable expertise of developing ties with big companies, which help to integrate the whole cycle from producers to merchants and sellers.
• Failure to convince the farmers to enroll in the proposed chain adopting the farming model. Until we successfully present the model farms to the farmers, there will never be mass adoption of such agriculture techniques. Hence with the desired expertise we also need dedicated volunteers to spread the interest among the farmers. Therefore FFF needs constant support from its volunteers and also increase its volunteers as the region of working is expanding.

Financing source
If yes, provide organization name.

Yes, it is connected to the NGO, Farmers First Foundation.

How long has this organization been operating? (i.e. less than a year; 1-5 years; more than 5 years)

1-5 years

Does your organization have a Board of Directors or an Advisory Board?

Yes, we have our Board of Directors.

Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with NGOs? (yes/no)

No

Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with businesses? (yes/no)

Yes

The Story
Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with government? (yes/no)

No

Please tell us more about how these partnerships are critical to the success of your innovation.

FFF needs support of a financial institution to become the part of the value chain and hence augmenting the services for the farmers in the value chain. These financial institutions such as HSBC bank provide valuable expertise of developing ties with big companies, which help to integrate the whole cycle from producers to merchants and sellers.

How many people will your project serve annually?

100-1000

What is the total number of employees and total number of volunteers at your organization?

There are no employees but around 20 volunteers.

What is your organization's business classification?

Non-profit/NGO/citizen sector organization

Have you received funding from any of the following groups? (Please check as many as apply.)

None of the above.