Man on mission to make a difference
Two years after starting an agri-venture in 2014 at age of 27 the founder of Aamhi Shetkari (We Farmers) Agritech, Mr. Amol Shirgire is a man on mission to make a difference in Agriculture sector. He has done Masters in Business Administration (MBA) with graduation in field of Agriculture.
Aamhi Shetkari Agritech works mainly in two domains; firstly it provides crop management advisory services to rural farmers in order to help them cultivate good quality marketable produce using minimum resources. Secondly, it helps farmers in marketing their produce in domestic as well as international markets. Since 2014, the venture has consulted more than 900 Farmers in State of Maharashtra, India and marketed produce of around 500 MT to domestic as well as International markets.
During this journey, we learnt many things from Farmers while working with them and also came across problems faced by them on day-to-day basis. We consulted mainly pomegranate growers as its main cash crop in area of our work. They are incurring huge loss ranging from 50 to 70% due to damage in fruits, mainly because of sunburn on skin, fruit fly and black spots due to bacterial plague. The problem is grave and needs to be addressed immediately. Various solutions were tried like covering trees with cloth or Polyethylene Plastic sheets. But they proved to be expensive and not that effective.
We have found one very simple but extraordinary solution to this problem, by bagging pomegranate fruits with white kraft paper bags as shown in picture. Bagging of fruits protects them from excessive heat of the sun, which causes damage to skin of fruits, keeps them safe from frost, excessive moisture and most importantly from fruit flies and bacterial infection. This simple tool will help farmers to cultivate good quality export quality fruits and fetch them good returns.
Initial field trials taken by our team were successful and shown positive results. Now, we intent to promote this idea among all farmers in the State of Maharashtra (India) by establishing demonstration plots at each block level. First time users, we call them innovators are reluctant to use new method or tools initially hence, these bags will be supplied to them at 50% discounted prices to make them affordable for use. As many as 80 bags are required to bag one Pomegranate plant and cost incurred is around USD 0.6 per plant. Hence, we propose to use USD 5000 grant money to buy USD 10,000 worth bags and then distribute it among Pomegranate Farmers undertaking this operation for first time.
The project will be launched with help of Agriculture Department of Maharashtra in each district in phase wise manner. We have already started discussion with officials of Agriculture department and they are ready to support us in this initiative by using their network to promote this idea amongst fruit growers in the state.
A cost to benefit analysis was done by our team, which concluded that use of paper bags is most cost effective and efficient tool to save fruits from external damage. For bagging one hectare plot of pomegranates average cost is around USD 600, while marketable value of fruits increases by 20 to 30% on an average giving additional income of around USD 2500 per hectare to the farmer.
Maharashtra State has approx. 85,000 hectares of pomegranate orchards and hence this project will benefit around 100,000 growers if each one starts using this tool of bagging fruits. The volume of fruits being exported will increase automatically and fetch Farmers good returns. This project will help us in reaching maximum growers and increase our volume of trade by marketing these fruits to domestic as well as international markets.
This simple tool will certainly prove to be a game changer in times to come. We look forward for your suggestions and remarks on this initiative.
Blogpost submitted by Amol Shirgire (India) – aamhi.shetkari(at)gmail.com
Picture courtesy: Laiyang Yintong Papermaking Ltd
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