What Seed Savers Club is all about?: The Answer
Last week at Seed Savers Club we had a question, what problem are we solving for our farmers. When farmers are not able to switch to organic 100%, when we cannot aggregate their produce to provide market linkages and when the cost of production might actually go up, how do we add value to a farmer by helping him/her switch to organic?
Understanding the why?
Why does an organic farmer sometimes end up using chemicals? Why is the production so less if they don’t? Why do they care about better prices if cost of production actually goes down in organic?
A typical farmer’s life generally consists of situations where their entire crop is affected by certain pest attack or disease. This means loss of entire production. Desperation in such situations is what leads to excessive use of chemicals by a traditional farmer. The same farmer when switching to organic ends up using chemicals in this situation.
A more resilient farmer may avoid chemicals but cannot always save his produce. To still generate a revenue this farmer of course would demand for a better price.
Ok, so then does organic not actually create any efficiency in production? And what is the value that Seed Savers Club create for these farmers?
Not everyone is in the same boat
Each farmer is at a different stage of his life and each one of them is struggling with a different problem. When we ask farmers what they learnt from our community the answer we get a lot is “ That 100% organic is actually possible. There is an organic solution for every problem.”
Our community takes away the desperation of a farmer by providing a support system. We provide a farmer with alternatives, not just alternatives to chemicals but multiple organic solutions they can deploy. From the ones they can buy from market to the ones they can create at their own farm. This helps them prevent damage to their produce without having to rely on chemicals. Some of these alternatives are more efficient than chemicals especially when preventive measures are used.
As long as we can solve every problem a farmer faces through low cost organic alternatives, we can push farmers towards a 100% organic produce.
But what about market linkages? Since aggregation is tough, how can Seed Savers Club create any value there? Shall we leave this to the likes of Big Basket, Otipy, Agrowave, Ninjacart etc.
Maintaining the differentiated identity
While all of these market linkages players can buy produce from farmers directly and probably provide better prices then local mandi, what they cannot solve for our farmers is maintaining their differentiated identity.
What we might struggle with is the logistics due to the distribution of our farmers across geographies, what we can provide them is a differentiated identity of their produce and linkages to those who want the differentiated produce.
The how of it is surely something that we need to figure out. It could be something as simple as integrating a certifying agency in our ecosystem to something as complex as us creating our own community defined [equivalent of open source license?] organic standards.
So, what have we exactly solved?
On production side, we provide a farmer with alternatives and choices. We enable him to choose to go 100% organic. We enable him to reduce his cost of production. On market linkages side, we can ensure that they can sell their produce as a differentiated produce and hence get better prices than mandi.