$2 Million Grant to Boost Smallholder Farmers’ Incomes and Resilience: Walmart Foundation supports Grameen Foundation’s Launch of MANDI-II in Eastern UP and West Bengal
[Varanasi, 20th September, 2023] – Grameen Foundation today announced it will deepen its commitment to smallholder farmers by launching the second phase of the Market Access eNabled by Digital Innovation in India (MANDI) project, made possible by a $2 million grant from the Walmart Foundation. MANDI-II will aim to address challenges faced by smallholder farmers, especially women, in Eastern Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal by building the capacities of Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs).
During the first phase of the MANDI project, also supported by the Walmart Foundation, Grameen Foundation helped build the capacity of 40 FPOs in Eastern Uttar Pradesh by facilitating market linkages, providing access to finance, data and technology and notably increasing women shareholder participation. The achievements of MANDI Phase I as reported by Grameen include:
· Gender Mainstreaming: Over 8,300 women were added as new members to FPOs;18 out of 40 FPOs now have at least 40% women membership compared to the 12.5% at baseline. A total of 142 self-help groups (SHGs) have been linked with 25 FPOs, resulting in the establishment of various gender-inclusive value chains, such as moringa, chili, medicinal plants such as aloe vera, and dairy as well as production chains such as sweets from the vegetable bottle gourd, and vermicompost as an alternative, organic fertilizer.
· Uptake of Agriculture Technologies: Approximately 9,600 farmers benefited from 14 agricultural technologies adopted by FPOs. These technologies include digital, climate-smart, and women-friendly solutions such as RWCM, Rice Doctor, Rice Expert, Wonder Pipes, Dibblers, Cono Weeder, Fasal Amrit for soil moisture retention, Bio Soilz for micro-nutrient activation, and Nano urea for nitrogen balance. Additionally, 1,200 farmers from 27 FPOs adopted biofortified zinc wheat and beta (β) carotene-rich carrot through diversification and climate-smart agriculture practices.
· Market Linkages: Total sales turnover of all 40 FPOs increased from ~INR 46 million (~USD 580,000) in the pre-intervention period to ~INR 153 million (~USD 1.9 million) indicating that the FPOs established critical market linkages (both agri produce and agri-input) with institutional and local buyers. FPOs transitioned from staple crops to cash crops, added value to selected value chains, and made data-based business decisions. To support FPOs in meeting regulatory requirements, Grameen facilitated 22 FPOs with APMC licences and 26 FPOs with export licences.
· FPO Financial Resilience: FPOs experienced a 112% increase in paid-up capital, indicating their ability to generate working capital internally. Additionally, 29 FPOs were linked with either the public or private financing schemes, enabling them to access financial resources and establish additional business activities.
Building on these achievements, the second phase of the MANDI project will focus on further enhancing the sustainability and resilience of FPOs in Eastern Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. The 24-month intervention will engage 50 FPOs through a hub and spoke model, targeting at least 40% women farmers and aiming to reach 35,000 farmers. Key objectives include increasing farmer incomes, strengthening FPOs’ governance and operations, and promoting market-led production for business viability.
The second phase of MANDI will also adopt a comprehensive “one-farm” approach to diversify production, integrate livelihoods, and improve farmer incomes. It will also promote sustainable agricultural practices by facilitating access to organized market setups, strengthening supply and value chains, and promoting climate-resilient practices.
“We are excited to collaborate with Grameen Foundation for the next phase of MANDI. We believe in the transformative potential of smallholder farmers in advancing India’s agricultural sector,” said Julie Gehrki, Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, Walmart Foundation. “Through this project, we aim to provide farmers with the necessary tools, resources, and market access to improve their livelihoods and build sustainable futures for their communities.”
Commenting on the project, Ms. Bharati Joshi, Chief Program Officer of Grameen Foundation India, stated, “The second phase of MANDI builds upon the successes of the first phase and represents a significant step towards increasing the incomes and building the resilience of smallholder farmers, especially women. By leveraging technology, market linkages, and gender mainstreaming, the project aims to generate impact across the agricultural landscape in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.”
The MANDI II project will play a crucial role in addressing challenges faced by small and marginal farmers in eastern Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. By rescaling and empowering FPOs, this initiative will enhance farmer incomes, improve livelihoods, and foster sustainable agricultural practices.