Karnataka state has been in the forefront of reforms in agriculture sector. Major agricultural-market reforms were brought in by Government of Karnataka in 2013. To effectively implement the reforms a special purpose vehicle namely, ReMS was registered as a company in 2014 under Company’s Act 2013.
The company’s objectives are to bring transparency in the trading operations at APMC’s and help farmer’s to fetch competitive prices for their produce by participation of large number of buyers on the online market platform, opening all markets for trading by the buyers through integration of markets on the e-portal called Unified Market Platform (UMP).
E-trading at markets:
The introduction of online trading in the markets necessitated training all the stakeholders namely farmers, traders, commission agents, APMC staff and data entry operators. Workshops were conducted to impart training on the e-trading platform and conveying the benefits of the new system like transparency, speed of operations and scope for large reach of the farmers produce for obtaining competitive price etc.
Reaching the beneficiary:
Success of any public service projects are directly dependent on the creating awareness among the target audience and their involvement. Keeping this in view, ReMS held several rounds of discussions & indulged in thought processes to evolve an effective method of massive campaigning of the reforms process and to make it reach out to the vast number of farmers spread across the state. The idea was to create awareness among farmers about the new marketing system, integration of markets, the manner in which trading is to be carried out, benefits that accrue to various stakeholders etc.
The theme was to deploy farmers to educate co-farmers as the level of trust would be high among them. Adopting this theme “Farmer to Farmer” stakeholder education programme was contemplated in two phases.
Cluster Village concept:
Each APMC (Agriculture Produce Market Committee) consist of 11 constituencies, each represented by a farmer and thus 11 farmer members will be in a committee. The farmer member and two volunteers selected by the member from his constituency forms a cluster. Thus 11 clusters are formed one for each constituency. Each cluster was entrusted with the responsibility of conducting 10 workshops in their constituency (10 villages). In phase 1, it was contemplated to conduct workshops in 100 APMCs and accordingly 3300 farmer members in the 1100 clusters were trained as master trainers. The 1100 clusters covered 11,000 villages and imparted awareness programme in a short time. In the second phase another 11,000 villages were covered.
To train the master trainers and to ensure effective communication of the information without distortion, training materials were planned carefully. These training materials included high quality awareness videos narrated by Managing Director on reform process, methodology of online trading, value addition to produce by cleaning, grading etc. These videos were produced in regional language using animated illustrations & pictures to effectively convey the message. Apart from the above, animated videos and documentaries were also produced with casting of renowned film actors conveying the changed market process. Posters for easy and quick dissemination of information were designed in an interesting story format and produced with catchy illustrations developed by professional artists. Characters in these illustrations were carefully created reflecting the diversity, ethnicity of stakeholders to get connected with the characters.
Expenditures for conducting online workshops by trained cluster team were funded. Call centre were created and APMC staff were deployed to clarify the queries and doubts raised during workshops. APMC officers assisted the master trainers in conducting first few programmes to make them confident of conducting similar programmes in other places.
This programme was executed effectively to communicate the reforms process among farmers located in remote areas. The uniqueness of the programme is involving farmers themselves as trainers for creating awareness to their fellow farmers. This programme was a huge success and was appreciated by farmers for conveying the new system in a simple and effective manner to understand and discuss with farmer representatives. The success of the programme was in the conceptualizing Farmer to Farmer knowledge transfer through cluster system.