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SUSTAINING RURAL ENTERPRISES THROUGH FOOD PROCESSING

posted Jun 4, 2012, 8:03 PM by Balachandran Chidambaranatraj   [ updated Jun 4, 2012, 8:13 PM ]
The industrial civilization has brought a great deal of centralized mass production system with the concept of 'bigger, the better'.

This ill-conceived notion has eroded the Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the society to a large extent. Food Industry is the worst affected due to this, as supply chain gets greatly affected in a centralized mechanism of production and distribution and the worst affected being the poor and the rural communities. With the Government mechanism's inability to provide a good Quality Assurance on the food products available in the market, the quality of food available to the common man is low. This, coupled with the cost factor leads to a grave deterioration in the health and quality of life of a common man.

The numerous small & marginal farmers of the remote villages in India today has limited options before him during the post harvest period. Without any bargaining power, he ends up selling his produce at the rate that's offered by the middle men who comes to his doorstep. Without the required scale to negotiate or options to add value (production of flour, flakes etc) to his produce, the small and marginal farmer lives in eternal poverty.

The initiative 'SUSTAINING RURAL ENTERPRISES THROUGH FOOD PROCESSING' from the NGO called Shanthivanam tends to address this issue by developing an integrated post harvest food processing unit. Through easy access to such processing units, the small & marginal farmers shall have more choices leading to better income levels. This initiative empowers the farmers who have an innovative approach and entrepreneurship skills to become drivers of growth in Rural Economy. This initiative when integrated with other such social initiatives addressing vital sectors of the rural life like textiles, construction etc can become the foundation for a better livelihood in villages and driving all round growth in the rural economy, as envisaged by ABDUL KALAM as PURA.

With an initial investment of 15 lakh rupees, the basic infrastructure will be set up with the following equipments:

  • Cold press Oil extraction
  • Grains de-husking
  • Grains de-stoning
  • Hand pounding
  • Jaggery production
  • Packaging
White labeling & Organic Certification:
The small farmer with a few quintals of grains (like ragi, rice etc) can complete the process of de-husking and de-stoning & package it into consumable packets with plain labeling. With a bit of entrepreneurial drive, the farmer can create a brand for himself and label his products for his local village sales & distribution. As the processing unit will be a Organic certified unit which handles only organic produce, the label can incorporate the certification logo, improving the product value in the market.

A four wheel vehicle capable of carrying up to 1 tonne will be made available to the farmer for the distribution of self-branded packaged products in his local village areas. The same vehicle shall be used for the transportation of raw farm products from the farm to the processing unit.

Business Model
The economic sustainability of this Business Venture would be addressed by the following channels:

  • Job work for farmers, packaged product units and big food production units
  • Creating & promoting a self brand (organically certified) of packaged essential products (Gingelly Oil, Coconut Oil, Ragi Hittu, Jaggery etc)
The success of this initiative shall be measured by:
  • The number of small and marginal farmers getting benefited
  • The volume of local brands made available in the local village kiranas at the affordable price
  • Achieving economic sustainability within 2 years
  • Generating enough revenue to convert the energy for the whole processing unit into a renewable source
and ensuring good quality food for daily consumption of the common man!

APART FROM IMPROVING THE INCOME LEVELS AND PROVIDING QUALITY JOBS AROUND THE UNIT, THIS UNIT CAN EVOLVE TO BECOME A SOCIAL ASSET THAT CAN BE EMULATED ACROSS THE COUNTRY.