Jorhat, Oct. 12: The Czech Republic may soon tie up with Assam’s Mushroom Development Foundation to work on the foundation’s Eco-friendly Integrated Livelihood Mission (E-FILM) for socio-economic development of farmers.
A delegation from the Czech Republic, which visited Guwahati recently, had been shown how the project had the potential to achieve cost effectiveness and develop trust, ownership and satisfaction at every level of business and create sustainability for farmers.
The Czech delegation included Radek Braum, deputy minister of agriculture of Czech Republic, Ivo Hlavác, deputy minister of environment, ambassador of Czech Republic to India Miloslav Stašek, Jirí Janícek, first secretary of the Czech Embassy in New Delhi and Karolína Bartošová, head of trade policy department of the ministry of agriculture, along with 10 corporate houses.
Pranjal Barua, Ashoka Fellow and mushroom entrepreneur, said the foundation has been evolving a strategy since 1994 to ensure that farmers get their raw materials in a cost-effective manner and work as a community to reap benefits.
“First, we developed cluster groups in villages to grow mushrooms. When it came to supplying spawn to these groups, which ranged from 50 to 150 packets, the cost was found to be too high. We came to know the villagers also required bundles of thread for weaving, goats and so on, which were supplied separately and hence, more costly. The model we are preparing calls for an integrated supply of materials required by the villagers and a central sales hub controlled by the community,” Barua said.
“Through this process the role of middlemen would be done away with and a separate channel for supply would maximise the profits on all commodities available under one roof and controlled by the farmer,” he added.
At present, 40 sales hubs have been set up in 40 villages and by the end of the year, the number will be increased to at least 80.
The foundation has selected 124 villages for construction of 10-foot by 10-foot sales centres with tin roofs.
Barua said the Czech delegation that attended the demonstration of the model had been impressed and were mulling business opportunities here.
“They were interested in selling chocolate and beer here but we have suggested that local brewery units could be set up in villages with Czech technology. We also pointed out other fields like pineapple and mushroom farming and other such agro-based industries, in which there would be minimal interference of middlemen. We showed how it would be a win-win situation for Czechs if they decided to invest in such a mechanism,” Barua said.