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Open grain storage, as shown in this photo from Karnal, Haryana, India, contributes to extensive post-harvest losses Photo credit: S. Mittal/CIMMYT.

Since the introduction of the negotiable warehouse receipt as a financing instrument for farmers in India in 2010, the amount of credit dispensed every year with warehouse receipts as collateral has increased steadily. The current volume of annual warehouse receipt finance is estimated at INR 35,000 crore (USD 5.4 billion), and projected to grow to INR 1 lakh crore (USD 15 billion) by 2020.

From the point of view of the farmers, processors and traders, the availability of reasonably priced credit from the organised sector against harvested produce is certainly an advantage. …

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Farming marigolds along the Yamuna, under the metro tracks in Delhi; Photo: Mayank Austen Soofi

As more people aggregate in megacities, urban agriculture is starting to be viewed as a sustainable way to produce and efficiently supply locally-grown fresh produce to cities. In India, there are 2 starkly contrasting varieties of urban farming

Urban farmers by choice: A relatively recent crop of startups and small companies catering to eco-conscious and organic-friendly urbanites who want to grow their own rooftop fruits and vegetables.

Urban farmers by default: Small-holder farmers that subsist (and sometimes operate successful businesses) on patches of agriculture-zoned land that have gradually been enveloped by urban development.

Urban farmers by choice

Plentiful sunlight, and relatively friendly year-round weather mean that a growing number Indian city-dwellers have successfully taken to rooftop farming. Some examples are this rooftop organic farm in Pune, or this one in Kerala. These individuals with their rooftop vegetable and fruit gardens and even mini-paddy fields supply their own kitchens and those of friends and family year round. …

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