India is a land of agriculture. There is no denial that the sector has greatly influenced the Indian economy at large. In 2019, 42.6 percent of the workforce in India were employed in agriculture, while the other half was almost evenly distributed among the two other sectors, industry and services. While the share of Indians working in agriculture is declining, it is still the main sector of employment. Moreover, the agriculture and allied sector share of GDP of India was 20.19%.
With the economic outcome it creates, it is important to develop the sector to adopt the trends and practices of a 21st century economy. The same can happen only if proper mechanisms are developed to enhance the overall productivity of farmers. Without a doubt, Farmer Producer Organizations or famously called as FPOs have the right potency to elaborate and multiply the impact in the agriculture sector. JOHAR is an attempt by World Bank and JSLPS to recollect and reenergize the FPO development for overall economic empowerment of the sector. The project is not limited to FPOs. The JOHAR project is a holistic package of rural livelihoods interventions aiming to enhance and diversify the incomes of targeted rural households.
JOHAR (Jharkhand Opportunities for Harnessing Rural Growth) is a project implemented in 68 blocks across 17 districts of Jharkhand, India. The development objective of the project is to enhance and diversify household income in select farm and non‐farm sectors for targeted beneficiaries in rural areas. Ananya is engaged as one of the Technical Support Agencies for enhancing creditworthiness of the Producer Groups (PGs) and Producer Companies (PCs) by the way of imparting trainings, streamlining book keeping, helping adherence to regulatory compliance & supporting financial reporting & analysis.
Ananya is engaged as one of the Technical Support Agencies for enhancing creditworthiness of the Producer Groups (PGs) and Producer Companies (PCs) by the way of imparting trainings, streamlining book keeping, helping adherence to regulatory compliance & supporting financial reporting & analysis.
The three year long project will conclude in December, 2021. The project has already created at an impact desired in the region and the sector. The project has reached over 2,00,000 households and has impacted formation/development of 19 FPOs in 17 districts. Moreover, its has created 3400 Producer Groups serving to 2,00,000 farmers You can read more about the project here JOHAR Project
Learning and Experiences
Being a technical support agency, Ananya had a learning grind and enriching experience of its own. Here are our three key learnings and experiences from the project:
A Difficult Toe
The biggest challenge was the oblivion nature of financial literacy among the women farmers who were representing the producer groups and the farmer producer companies. It was challenging to establish a sound financial management structure for the FPC without a foundational base of financial literacy among the women farmers.
The challenge was accepted by Ananya's team and dedicated sessions were planned establishing incremental learning curve for the women farmers. Moreover, the sessions were coupled with real life simulations, case studies, group exercises and real time capstone projects for the women farmers. Ananya understood that mere sessions and mentorship won't serve the purpose. Hence, the team organized additional decision-making sessions within the FPC where Ananya's team participated in the daily operations of the FPC.
Sustainability: Of the Farmers, By the Farmers and For the Farmers
The sessions organized for the women farmers of the producer groups and the farmer producer companies yielded a positive outcome in defining a systematic learning approach to financial literacy and management. Our team realized the importance of financial literacy and its impact on developing sustainability for the women farmers. Though we had limited modules on sustainability, we observed that the women farmers incorporated forecasting and future planning as a part of the financial management process. They self-organized group meetings to discuss the challenges based on seasonality, government policies and other socio-economic changes in the local and national economy. A few of them have started organizing knowledge sharing sessions where they discuss highlights from newspapers and news channels concerning agriculture and allied sectors. Sustainability become an organic and unplanned positive outcome during Ananya's interaction with the women farmers in the JOHAR project.
Gender and Agriculture: Twisty Yet Linear Impact
Our team observed that the modern practices and aspirations of the women farmers were greatly influenced by the traditional collective agricultural practices in Jharkhand. The women farmers would collectively discuss and decide on the economic aspects of the agri produce. The same was observed during the training sessions organized for these women farmers. The collective approach enhanced our efforts in building a robust financial management structure for these FPCs.
Overall, the experience of JOHAR was a great learning experience for Ananya. Being a proactive impact lender it is important for us to leave our impact footprint in diverse avenues of socio-economic development of the underserved population. The opportunity to serve as a technical partner at the JOHAR helped us in impacting 2,00,000+ households through training women farmers representing 19 FPCs and 3800+ Producer Groups through capacity building and training on finance and allied themes.