The Spice Story: Turmeric Value Chain Project in ITDA Paderu, Vishakhapatnam, A.P.

Turmeric field in Paderu ITDA Region

Background: Paderu ITDA mandal is one of the perpetual organic hotspot of Eastern Ghats producing variety of spices without applying any nonfarm inputs. This unique feature fetches premium price in national and international market where the lion’s part of the dividend is taken away by the non-producing stakeholders of the supply chain.

SERP-AP took initiative to form product based Farmer Producer Organization under the World Bank funded Andhra Pradesh Rural Inclusive Growth Project in six mandals of Paderu where turmeric was identified as major cash crop along with coffee, black pepper & long pepper. Vijayavahini Charitable Foundation (VCF), supported by Tata Trusts entered into the scenario as a knowledge partner and started designing a program to benefit the farmers for a better quality of live. Tata Trusts with its AP unit VCF started roping in different partners to accumulate critical knowledge, resources, infrastructure and fund.

This was aimed to determine the success paths to develop a pro-poor organic value chain by three-fold intervention of marketing, agri-intervention and certification in this tribal agency area and for that purpose turmeric was chosen as base crop to ground the intervention. The aim of the intervention is to retain the organic status and certify it, conserve the gene pool and create better livelihood opportunities for the eleven tribal communities of the region.

Turmeric

Research Phase: An end to end supply chain analysis was conducted to identify the cost economics, major stakeholders, prime business locations, transaction points and potential customer base by conducting FGDs & in depth interviews. The study helped to map the existing impact on the rural livelihood & economics in the different part of the agency area. Also planning an alternate sustainable structure was an objective of the process. Data was collected from farmer leaders for 11000 farmers regarding existing turmeric farming practices, land use, inputs used, yield obtained and range of price of turmeric sold. The findings from the study were:

· The farmers here mostly used the local variety of turmeric seed which has a two-year crop harvest cycle.

· The crop was kept in rainfed condition mostly and almost no outside farm inputs were supplied.

· There were no proper methods of sowing and crop management practiced.

· The turmeric was harvested and boiled and polished by local inefficient methods.

· It was seen that the yield obtained was 600–800 kg per acre.

· Land holding was average 0.2–0.3 acre per farmer where turmeric is grown.

· On an average, the turmeric was sold at Rs. 65 per kg.

· This roughly translated into an income of Rs 7800 to Rs 15,600 per harvest cycle.

Field of turmeric without proper land preparation and sowing

The Problem: The price actualization at the farmer end is largely impacted by the existence of multiple layers of middlemen, stockist & hoarders. Also the income per acre remains low due to poor yield compared to the national average of turmeric production which is approximately 2 tons per acre.

Intervention: The interventions are being done at two levels: better marketing and productivity enhancement.

Better marketing: As with most of the rural farmers, the middlemen take most of the profits while a producer is left struggling to break even. The first level of study led to first phase of intervention of capacity building among the farmers. The following were the major interventions done in this area:

· Under the six FPOs eleven thousand farmers were assembled who were also registered under e-Spice Bazar portal of Ministry of Commerce & Industry, GOI.

· Training and assessment of farmer group leaders,

·Interstate exposure visits by farmers,

· Product certification,

· National level buyer-seller meet for direct market linkage,

· Processing unit comprising boiler and polisher installation and

· Along with this the first Organic certification program started in collaboration with AP Govt. under three major national & international standards in this phase.

Productivity Enhancement: In the second phase, project started to assess the factors impacting yield under an action learning program under which non randomized control trials are being performed in thirty-one plots across the region. The objective is to find the optimum sets of practices for best yields along with conserving the perpetual organic nature of this region.

The key changes the program has started propagating are:

· The plots are being tested with a better seed variety called Pragati which reduces the crop harvest cycle from 2 years to 6 months. This would directly enable the farmer to double the production.

· The turmeric seed was sown without any line sowing and directly on the level farmland. Now they are being taught to sow in a line in raised beds. This improves the productivity of the crop and provides the root a proper space to grow.

· Proper crop management like weeding, irrigation, application of bio-inputs are also being promoted to the farmer to improve the yield of the crop.

Both phase I & II will be running in an iterative cycle for three years where knowledge gained in the process will be documented & disseminated to the farmers through agriculture extension service.

In addition to the above, post-harvest direct market linkage utilizing a collective sale under social entrepreneur model is under process. The study includes a monitoring and evaluation process and aims to impact eighty percent of overall farmers during project execution period.

Furthermore, recommendations deduced from this study is being implemented in phased manner targeting up to 11000 households. In the recommendations, a formation of social enterprise is aimed by incubating 36 community entrepreneurs’ business models which not only market local agricultural produces but also support a secondary livelihood plan and household nutrition issue.

The ownership is planned to be transferred to the community in the span of three years in a phased manner under this entrepreneurship model. Along with this, yield enhancement by advanced farm inputs, best practices & technology is being experimented across the region in 31 control plots, to bring down the crop cycle from two years to nine months.

The Impact: The yield enhancement process is expected to result up to 200% increase in production. To address a growing niche market of organic products the region is being certified under NPOP, NOP and EU standards. All the outcomes are being monitored closely and documented for an impact evaluation. Not just being limited to the recommendations, the project aims to conclude in on-ground execution for holistic betterment of the community and lead by an example in future.

Debajyoti Das

Senior Program Associate-Consultant

VCF-TATA TRUSTS

Vizag, India

1st Feb 2019

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