Generating Livelihoods 2 : People institutions (FPCs/SHGs) and local resources

These are images from the work of an FPC that has received significant Technical and Financial assistance from both NABARD (through its promoting organisation) and a support agency like S3IDF - to help access finance and technology through banks and technology suppliers.

This FPCs operations is in a dry-land belt and its traditional crops are Ragi and other minor millets like Foxtail Millet. Until around 4 years back, there was significant Foxtail millet being grown here though its local consumption was coming down. So the FPC’s plan was to add value to foxtail millet locally - to convert it from raw millet to basic millet rice. The hypothesis was that this will make it cheaper and enhance local consumption of the foxtail millet. The “cheaper part” was validated - local FPC owned and operated milling machine almost halved the milling cost per Kg of the millet. However FPC did not succeed in the overall plan for a combination of reasons. the result, milled rice stock unsold and rotting and overtime, the milling machine and destoner not being used. However this was started before COVID and the current status has also been affected by COVID’s impact. The combination of reasons, as diagnosed by the promoting NGO, the FPC and ourselves as a support organisation are the following:

  1. The Directors were not involved enough in the actual day-to-day operations of the FPC leaving everything to the CEO which caused a demotivation of the CEO himself.
  2. Overtime both the quantity and quality of the yield of foxtail millet has been reducing - anecdotally due to change in weather patterns. One leading to the other. And significant rainfall in the years 2021/2022 leading farmers to go for borewell driven irrigated crops such as Areca with higher commercial value.
  3. Import of lower price foxtail millet coming into Karnataka from Tamil Nadu - “prices which are too tough to compete with for the local FPC”
  4. Availability of low cost PDS Rice which drives some food consumption patterns.
  5. The technology adopted for the foxtail millet milling was not as advanced enough as it should have been - the millet rice to broken rice ratio is too low - a better machine means a better ratio and better economics was the CEO’s refrain - yet to be validated by numbers.
  6. But one of the directors point out - "Hey but even with the higher broken rice, the “bran and broken rice” is a great fodder supplement for diary whose commercial value we have not yet captured but we need to do that !

Such are the conversations with these institutions… its a complex navigation environmental and market externalities, ideas & opportunities, collaborations & competitions - but above all its a navigation between aspiration, motivation & cynicism.

Any stories and any approaches anyone can share on how to “break” such jinxes to get some energy going to solve such problems. More specifically if anyone has experience dealing with the Millet space in Karnataka please do message me.

@Vikas @Vikas.hosoor @rishabh.lalani @sameershisodia