Woman AE overcomes bias and changes small holder livelihood
In Chittoor District – a district which features on a list of 100 agriculturally less developed and distressed districts (Expert Group on Agricultural Indebtedness, 2007), Agri-Entrepreneurs (AEs) under the joint program of Syngenta Foundation India and Society of Elimination of Rural Poverty (SERP), are working hard towards improving farmer livelihood by providing them high-quality services.
Vidagutti Nirmala, a young mother of two, started her feed enterprise under the AE program in October 2018. She works directly with over 200 farmers of which 102 are women farmers. From providing high-quality feed to sharing advisory about progressive and remunerative farming practices, Nirmala is fast becoming an important influencer in her farming community.
Making her niche, however, was not an easy task. After completing her 45-day residential training as an AE, Nirmala came back to her village armed with new ideas and information. However, what awaited her was prevalent gender bias.
“Who will listen to you since you are a girl?” said Nirmala’s father when he heard about the enterprise that she wanted to start and its roots in farm advisory and relationship building. Undeterred, Nirmala continued meeting farmers registered with the local FPO at their monthly meetings.
SERP has worked on creating Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) to promote aggregation of small and marginal farmers for them to benefit from economies of scale. Syngenta Foundation India’s AE program aims to augment the aggregation by helping an AE serve as a last-mile service provider to farmers who are connected to the farmers.
Using the tablet loaded with high-quality content provided under the AE program, Nirmala was able to develop a strong relationship with the farmers. Women farmers particularly reach out to Nirmala for advisory and also purchase feed from her store.
Over the course of 6 months, Nirmala has done a total business of over INR 150,000 through her feed store. She is now expanding her business avenues and was recently trained under IDFC’s micro ATM initiative. She will now be providing doorstep financial services to the farmers.
“Without the guidance and training that I have received under the AE program, I would never be able to start or even think about starting my own enterprise. I am extremely satisfied and look forward to serving farmers and ensure a good education for my children” says Nirmala.