Laxmi Prakash Semwal


Laxmi Prakash Semwal's picture
Name: Laxmi Prakash Semwal
Organization: Shri jagdamba samiti
Title: Director
Started my development practices in 1991 we have focused on resource planning, technology extension and market approach based development to combine social and economic development of rural areas of uttrakhand himalayas. In my twenty years of experience, I would have worked with NGOs, business and consultancy organizations where billion rupees that have spent on but those who had commercial angle to it are only doing well. I came to the conclusion is that what really works is economic development with social concern. The people when they get income look after a lot of things. But off course it needs social concerns if one focuses on integrated/sustainable development. I have planed, implemented and organized project on drinking water and sanitation, joint forest management and agriculture diversification in partnership with Govt. and learn/experienced about community organizations and how social aspects effect the development project. In 2007 I came in contact of family foundation from The Netherlands with a company deals in storage technologies and we have started Apple project in uttrakhand with small and marginal farmers to set up joint venture companies enable the farmers to move up in valued addition chain of agri-produces processing. So far seven farmer trusts and five joint venture companies has been established to organize 2000+ small growers. The member farmers have been supported with ICT for keeping database of their land, production, supply and benefits. All the joint venture will eventually owned by the farmers. More about the project can see from: Enduring change Sometimes the question is raised to what extent the Apple project is truly civic-driven. Semwal: ‘The only thing I know for sure is that our model works. If you’re doing business with a social incentive, the social purpose becomes commercial at the same time. I believe that economic empowerment alongside social interventions brings about enduring change.’ Still Laxmi needs help. ‘We don’t know how to explain the model to the academic world or researchers. I am hoping that Context can help us explaining our model The organisation Shri Jagdamba Samiti is based in Uttarakhand, in the Himalayas in North India, and was set up in 1991. They launched an ‘Apple project’ for farmers. This project is an initiative of Stichting Het Groene Woudt in the Netherlands and the Dutch company Fresh food Technology (FFT) and Shri Jagdamba Samiti, Semwal explains. ‘We are working with small and marginal farmers on the theme ‘empowerment through ownership and business model development’. The goal of the Apple project is to facilitate a process of empowerment among small-scale apple farmers in order to promote sustainable socio-economic development. ‘Our model works. Rather than to establish leadership, the farmers are building their own company. This gives them more responsibility. And new trust. It’s like building a bridge The Apple project consists of four decentralised apple collection centres. Farmers are encouraged to join the cooperative, through which they can process and sell their produce jointly at better prices. ‘At first the farmers weren’t convinced that our model would work’, says Semwal. ‘Farmers weren’t that enthusiastic. We were perceived as ‘the enemies’. In 2006 approximately 500 farmers joined us. The programme wasn’t perceived to be realistic, according to the local farmers. But the model proved to be exceptional. And nowadays roughly 2400 farmers are involved

Challenge Entries

Our aim is to create profitable partnership between investors and farmer groups by setting up joint agro-processing enterprises, based on solid feasibility studies and business plans. The new agro-businesses are to become sufficiently profitable and economically independent.
The value-addition created is used to repay the investment to the investor and transfer the economic ownership to the farmer groups. To avoid the short term benefits for the farmers through the management of the agro-business (main draw-back of the cooperative model).

An approach targeted towards setting-up healthy agro-businesses through joint venture of farmers and private investors wherein the farmers themselves can gradually gain economic ownership, supported by both NGOs and experienced private entrepreneurs. It aims to set up healthy farmer owned businesses in handling, processing and trading farmer’s commodities collectively.