Livelihood in the Time of a Lockdown

Livelihood in the Time of a Lockdown

My colleague from the Bengaluru office, Mallika, called to double check if we were documenting the ‘FPO’ story for our weekly update. FPO is the short for Farmer Producer Organisation.

We had received the ‘FPO’ story in bits and pieces — first a few pictures and then a brief and then finally the story. Her excitement was not just because we were distributing dry ration in Tumkur — the second in Karnataka after Bengaluru — but also because we had provided some livelihood opportunity.

A part of the dry ration kit distributed in Sira town in Tumkur to 200 migrant and construction workers, was prepared by the Salughatte FPO. The dry ration kit had rice, ragi powder, pulses, dhaniya powder, chili powder, salt, sugar, edible oil, soap, detergent powder and mask. The FPO comprising 500 farmers was brought on board to prepare the ragi flour, chili powder and dhaniya powder. The masks too were procured from local tailors. This was an important step to provide dignified livelihood in times of a lockdown.

“Under Oxfam India’s PSP project, MOTHER NGO has given an opportunity to the SFPC to supply Ragi flour, dhaniya powder and chilli powder for distribution in the dry food kit to people. It was a good opportunity for the FPO and the people of our village,” said Parameshwara R, CEO of Salughatte Farmer Producer Company Limited (SFPC).

Oxfam India has a 3-phased approach for humanitarian response. Immediate meets the food requirements of people, Intermediate looks at Unconditional Cash Transfer (UCT) and livelihood support, and Long Term looks at reviving employment opportunities for the most vulnerable and ensure sound economic policies.

“We couldn’t take the crops we grew to the market due to the lockdown. During these times, when the FPO approached us to purchase our dry chilies it has helped us farmers a lot. It has also ensured that our produce isn’t lost. Thanks to MOTHER,” a farmer said. MOTHER, is Oxfam India’s partner NGO in Tumkur for the COVID-19 response.

SFPC in Hunasekatte village in Sira block is a producer company registered under companies act and owned by 500 small and marginal farmers of Hunasekatte and nine surrounding villages. This SFPC was promoted by MOTHER NGO with the financial assistance of NABARD in 2016.

The farmers in the FPO grow crops such as millets (ragi), red gram, groundnut, onion, cotton and sunflower. The SFPC was formed to ensure the farmers financial gains through procurement, processing and finally, marketing the produce at the best possible price. The FPO is involved in agriculture support and training, processing and packaging of raw goods and marketing of the finished products. The FPO is active in sales of agriculture inputs like seeds, fertilisers and aggregation of agriculture commodities to provide a common platform for its member growers. Very recently the FPO had established a Millet processing centre and purchased a vehicle.

When the lockdown began, the demand and supply chains were disrupted. Farmers weren’t too keen to harvest their produce. There were no avenues for the farmers to sell their produce. Once the lockdown eased a bit, the FPO extended its support to vegetable growers by purchasing their vegetables and selling them via door to door delivery with the help of the vehicle. But a lot of the other farmers in the villages were beginning to feel the pinch of the lockdown.

This initiative benefitted the farmers (who could sell their coriander, chili and ragi), the workers (involved in the purchase and packing of the milled produce), the mill owner (who milled the given produce), FPO vehicle driver (who carried the packets from the village to the distribution centre), and finally all the people who received the dry ration kits. 

- (with inputs from Pushpalatha, Technical Officer, MOTHER)

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