India is primarily an agrarian nation and agriculture has a major share in the GDP of the country. That being said, India also has the largest number of poor people in the world: 270 million, according to the World Bank. Employment growth is critical in low-productivity agriculture, which accounts for nearly three-quarters of the poor population.
According to The World Bank data, only 10-12% of small producers were able to access vital extension schemes and a mere 7-8% of other government schemes. The evaluation found that large farms were crowding out the smaller farmers from accessing key subsidies and benefits.
Impact innovations powered by government schemes are helping small farmers rise out of their poverty and get a chance at living better lives. To understand how this is happening, we caught up with Srinivas Ramanujam, Practice Lead, Agribusiness at Villgro Innovations Foundation.
Srinivas is passionate about human centred design and innovation in business models that have a significant impact on society and environment. He has 15 years of experience in sales, marketing, brand management and strategy across retail finance, consumer goods, automotive, farm equipment and agri-input sectors.
At Mahindra & Mahindra, as an intrapreneur, he helped incubate business concepts across the auto and farm sectors. He worked with an Agri startup making pheromone-based alternatives to pesticides, as their sales head.
Here are some excerpts from our chat with Srinivas. Watch the videos below to hear Srinivas express his thoughts on innovations for small holding farmers, change in management education and aligning social enterprises with SDGs.
What innovation has done is, help small farmers get access to services and support that a lot of large farmers took for granted.
Now, innovations are helping a lot of small farmers come together, get better access to markets, and it is just helping create better dynamics about how they can approach farming. And that has increased their incomes, hence better livelihood and consequently their economic status improves too.
80% of farm holdings are less than 10 acres in India.
If we have to work in India, in this space, we have to make business models that work for small farmers.
It is not about what the education is lacking, it is about what space the entrepreneur is working in and what challenges is he working on.
Only if the business model is viable, only will it survive, create an impact.
Cover image: villgro.org