Coop society creates steady source of income for over 11,000 farmers

The ability of the collective of tribals in Paderu Agency area in initiating and maintaining a sustainable commercial cultivation of coffee has earned it the recognition from its peers and a number of funding agencies. The latest being the Citibank Community Enterprise of the Year Award.

The Small and Marginal Tribal Farmers Mutually Aided Cooperative Society of Paderu (SAMTFMACS), formed in 2007 as a coffee processing and marketing enterprise, has successfully changed the socio-economic and geographic landscape of the region by creating a steady source of income to its members apart from greening the forests. The efforts have resulted in decreased involvement of money lenders and middlemen, thus improving the livelihood of the tribal communities who depend upon growing coffee as a primary source of income. Currently, more than 11,000 farmers are part of the cooperative, in addition 35 local tribal youth are employed full time in the cooperative and many illiterate women get wage employment at the cooperative’s coffee processing unit.

Second millionth sapling

Currently the cooperative has diversified into agri-forestry with a focus on reviving the eco-system. Under this programme – Hariyali –the community has planted the 2 millionth sapling recently.

The best part is the community is following up on the plantation and taking care to nurture the sapling till it grows into a full-fledged tree. In case any plant withers away it is replaced by another one and its growth monitored, chief sustainability officer of Naandi Foundation, working with the tribals in this project, David Hogg said. Mr David Hogg and the Naandi Foundation leveraged their networks to get the Livelihoods Group to fund the entire project. The carbon sequestration by the agro forestry project earns carbon credits to the community. This is sold to multinationals for funding the project.

The Citibank’s Citi Micro Enterprises Award, in its seventh year, recognised the effort as a Community Enterprise of the Year. “Micro and small enterprises are powerful and efficient drivers of economic growth and job creation.

The winners of the 2012 Citi Micro Enterprise Awards not only run successful businesses but also demonstrate that it is possible to do well and to do good. We are proud to play a part in recognising and promoting this empowering role played by local communities, in creating their own enterprises as a tool to collective action,” Pramit Jhaveri, CEO of Citi India said. The Citibank award was presented to the representative of the SAMTFMACS by US Ambassador to India Nancy J Powell at a glittering ceremony in New Delhi recently.

The farmers collective plans to increase the membership base and attain organic certification for all of them and also increase the per acre income from coffee plantation from current Rs 6,250 to Rs 31,250, Hogg added.