Once upon a time….

  1. Abhinav Farmers Club
     is a national award winning group farming initiative located in Mulshi taluka, of Pune district of Maharashtra a state in India. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abhinav_Farmers_Club
  2. Once upon a time in the neighbourhood of Pune, there was a farmer’s son. The farmer was in debt like most farmers in India. He had already sold ten acres of his land to settle  a loan he had taken ten years ago. The loan amount had become ten times the original loan. That is a familiar story everywhere in India.
  3. The story changed when Dyaneswar Bodke, the indebted farmer’s son, enrolled for a course in the Horticulture Training Centre, Talegaon.
  4. Armed with that knowledge, he set up the Abhinav Farmer’s Club (AFC) in order to pass on his new found wisdom on poly house farming and irrigation of exotic flowers and vegetables to all those who were interested to learn.
  5. The year was 1999. There were 17 members in the club then. All of them were able to repay their loan of a million rupees each within two years.
  6. One indebted farmer, one training, one club and several loans repaid — the rest is history.
  7. “Those who sold their land for IT parks are now working as security guards in those very companies” Those who did not have rags to riches story to tell.
  8. The National Agricultural Bank for Rural Development (NABARD) stepped in. So did Canara Bank.
  9. The club grew bigger to have  850 farmers in Maharashtra cultivating about 143 hectares of land.
  10.  The club  now has  4,600 members belonging to the states of Maharashtra, Madhya PradeshGujarat and Uttar Pradesh.

    Now We have Abhinav Farmers’ Clubs

  1.  Set up in 1999  with assistance from the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard), it has an annual turnover of Rs 240 million with a profit margin of 30%.
  2.  Now 41 years old, Dyaneshwar Bodke heads a 4,500-member group called Abhinav Farmers Club, which grows flowers and organic vegetables in polyhouses and sells them to retail outlets in Delhi and Mumbai; they transport to stores in other  large Indian cities.They also export  the produce to Dubai and  Europe.
  3. Farmers  grow traditional farm produce like brinjal, potato, onion, rice and wheat.Members of the club also produce dairy and poultry products, flowers and exotic vegetables like broccoli, red cabbage, cherry tomatoes, celery, parsley, sweet corn and baby corn.
  4. “We are able to make a good amount as our flowers go to Delhi, Kolkata, Nagpur, Hyderabad, Latur and other places in India. We pack them neatly and send them through the rail network,” says Dyaneshwar Bodke, chief volunteer, AFC.
  5. “Traditional farming compelled the farmers to wait for the required weather conditions to start farming. But, since we do our business in greenhouses and sheds, we are able to control the conditions in which the crops grow. That’s the reason why we are able to excel as we don’t have to depend on nature for the right time to begin,” adds Bodke.
  6. The concept has enabled agrarians grow exotic vegetables, flowers and fruits throughout the year and also help improve the depleting water table.
  7. Farmers affiliated to the club use drip irrigation and operations in the farms are labor intensive. This keeps their costs under check.
  8. Abhinav Farmers’ Club acts as a platform for sharing information; transforms lives by focusing on dairy farming, floriculture.Farmer-members share their knowledge on all the aspects of farming — what to farm, what to grow, seeds, fertilisers, pesticides and marketing of produce.
  9. Its yearly turnover is a little above Rs 240 million.Dairy alone accounts for a turnover is Rs 30 to 50  million
  10. It has generated employment for close to 730 men and women, out of which 445 women work under self-help groups.
  11. It is assisting over 150 households in the city of Pune to grow their own vegetables on vegetable patches in balconies and terraces of flats and in pots.

One Farmer, One Training, One Club, the Rest is History

  1. And this has changed many lives around him. One example is Nilesh Mane. “I had almost zero income, untilled land and a failed printing press business.
  2. “Abhinav Farmers’ Club (AFC) has changed my life,” Jadhav say Most AFC farmers are now debt-free.
  3. The Club has received lots of publicity through television and newspapers (about 5000 media items till date)
  4. All financial newspapers, Economic Times, Business Standard and Mint have carried extensive studies on  Abhinav Farms.
  5. In an area of just 15-20 acres, a turnover of Rs 120-130 million obtained.
  6. Kitchen Gardening: Supplement to commercial agriculture, provides self-sufficiency.
  7. Abhinav Farmers Club received a National Award
  8. Dyaneshwar  the founder has  toured to 11 countries for different conferences, discussions, study.
  9. Till date, 75,000 people have visited the site! Out of them, 1200 were foreigners.
  10. Meanwhile, Dnyaneshwar trains 30 farmers every Saturday who come to his office from all over Maharashtra and from states as far as Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Delhi, Gujarat and Orissa, to name a few.

Innovations Galore

  1. There is an active participation of women in marketing, management, etc
  2. There are self-help groups which carry out picking, packing and grading. Total 47 such groups are there in Maharashtra.
  3. Soil testing is done periodically in government labs
  4. The raised bed system is used in the greenhouse. It can be used consecutively for 3-4 years without change.
  5. Around the year, for 11 months the land is under plantation and 1 month is treated as the rest period for the land.
  6. Marketing is very crucial: around 50% of the role is played by effective marketing techniques
  7. Seeds are all imported from China, since they give guaranteed output
  8. First, they understand production cost. Make production profitable.
  9. They make a direct link with consumers. Farmers’ club has wiped off the concept of “middlemen” and “agents” (Dalaals).
  10. Food processing industry offers attractive job opportunities.

The Take Homes

  1. Bring business into farming. Every farmer must become a business man.Profits are the only reason why farmers would join us and more farmers are witnessing that as of now,” he says.
  2. Farmers come together, pool in money and standardize farming, buying of seeds and use it as a bargaining chip to reduce costs and realize economies of scale.
  3. All Dyaneshwar’s  lectures begin with: ‘Subsidies are the farmers’ biggest enemies’; ‘loan-waivers only help the kith and kin of politicians’; and ‘money borrowed with the intent to repay leads to wealth and well-being’.
  4. Dynaeshwar’s  life has inspired a Nabard-funded book called Abhinavgatha.
  5. The number of producer companies is likely to expand and their role increase in importance, driven by four key factors: the needs of the market and of small growers, a more proactive government policy, civil society initiatives to promote such groups, and the rise of a new generation of educated farmers such as Bodke who are adopting the best farm practices and want the best prices.
  6. The Union ministry of agriculture has made the Small Farmers’ Agri-Business Consortium (SFAC) the nodal agency for promoting agricultural producer companies.
  7. SFAC  helps such companies and their partners with soft loans and facilitate tie-ups with corporations for market links.  “We want to demonstrate the benefits of aggregating small producers,” says managing director of SFAC.
  8. Small farmers, who dominate Indian agriculture, are more productive than their larger peers but earn less because their pricing power is weak.
  9. The structure of a producer company has emerged as the most efficient and popular organizational form for groups of small farmers to get better prices. Producer organizations not only allow better access to markets, credit, and technology but also allow smallholders greater voice.
  10. Products are sent to Delhi, Kolkata, Gujarat and Mumbai. Demand from Dubai and Singapore, but not enough produce to supply there.