Interview | Saugata Mitra Delhi

‘We have been making many agronomic interventions’

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Farmers associated with Safal get the benefit of transparency in pricing, timely payment and logistical support

Saugata Mitra, the director of Mother Dairy Fruit & Vegetable Pvt. Ltd, speaks to The Hindu about the importance of cultivating a good relationship with the farmers, good agricultural practices and initiatives aimed at training farmers on how to cultivate and produce as per quality specifications

What are the steps taken by Safal to ensure safe agricultural practices and ensure that consumers receive eco-friendly produce?

In order to ensure that safe and quality produce is available to consumers, we have always engaged with the entire value chain linking different players and stakeholders from farm to fork, with stringent quality and monitoring parameters. We have been making various agronomic interventions, such as crop planning, guidance on good agricultural practices, post-harvest practices and handling, and packaging of harvested produce.

These initiatives are aimed at training and guiding farmers to cultivate and produce as per quality specifications and norms to ensure best quality produce for the consumers. We have set up ripening chambers for fruits like mangoes, bananas, papayas, etc., at our processing unit in order to ensure safe ripening, which in the unorganised market is done by using hazardous chemicals.

What is the business model of Safal? What are the incentives provided to farmers, as opposed to them selling directly to the market?

The very genesis of the brand Safal is centered around providing farmers direct access to the market with right remuneration for their produce, and providing consumers safe and quality products. Farmers who are associated with Safal get the benefit of transparency in pricing, assured market, timely payments through bank transfers and logistical support, such as transport, crates, etc.

In traditional markets, farmers get exploited right from price discovery stage to weighment and at the time of payments, where transparency is an issue.

How is the objective of directly linking consumers to vegetables and fruits being achieved by Safal?

Over the years, we have built a robust supply chain and procurement system to enable us contact the farmers directly and eliminate middlemen. With a highly qualified team educating and helping farmers adopt good pre and post-harvest technologies, we are currently engaged with a network of over 8,000 farmers across 16 States.

How will the current ecosystem be affected once food giant Walmart enters the Indian market?

Safal has a strong back-end and robust supply chain system. It has a strong network of front-end retail outlets. Our back-end extension system is continuously working with farmers on the ground to increase their per acre output. Our farmer connect programmes have strengthened our relationship and bonding with farmers over the last three decades.

What role will Safal play in order to achieve Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s objective of doubling farmers’ income by 2022?

We are working towards increasing crop yield of farmers by guiding them on good agricultural practices as well as post-harvest management of produce, thereby reducing their losses and increasing yield of marketable produce. With our experience, we have seen that marketable products such as mangoes have improved immensely over the time, which ensures that farmer gets more money through improved output per acre.

Are such goals achievable?

Wherever Safal operates, we strive towards achieving these goals by way of developing farmer base and engaging with them, wherein we see a positive outlook.

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Printable version | Dec 12, 2019 10:16:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/we-have-been-making-many-agronomic-interventions/article24248904.ece

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