The Vasundhara Agri-Horti Producer Company Ltd (VAPCOL) carries out the business of procurement, grading, marketing, selling and export of its primary produce – fruit and nut. Its area of operations is spread across Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan. Today, it has a membership base of 55 producer organisations; and is also a beneficiary of the BAIF supported wadi programme.
The farmers in these areas sell their produce to cooperatives; and Sitaram Gangaram Birar is one such tribal farmer from Navsari in south Gujarat who is a beneficiary of this wadi programme. He has been growing cashews and mangoes for the last 20 years. During every season, he collects his produce and takes it to the nearest Dixal cooperative to sell. It’s a long queue as he waits his turn, and it takes even longer at the collection centre as the staff grades, weighs and prepares the bill for collection of payment from the cooperative office. Despite the cumbersome procedure, at least it guaranteed a fair price. But not all farmers were able to carry on with this tiring and time-consuming process. Many of them ended up as easy bait for middlemen and traders who lured them with quick money, and then exploited them by under-weighment and low prices.
It’s said that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. And in this case it was the long waiting time spent by the farmers. Changing this seemingly small issue on the ground can bring about a significant and long standing overall impact.
VAPCOL soon fell into the process of strengthening its financial base not only by exploring new markets and finding access to finance, but also through technology use to reduce complexity of operations, improve efficiencies and manage output. VAPCOL accessed working capital credit through NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development) under its Umbrella Programme for Natural Resource Management (UPNRM) and entered into partnership with SourceTrace Systems with the aim of “digitizing farmer information and enabling remote transactions”. As part of this partnership, SourceTrace deployed five modules of its ESE Agrisolution – farmer enrollment, input distribution, procurement and payment processing, inventory and traceability and Internal Control system for Organic and Fair Trade Certification.
As a provider of customized application software solutions, SourceTrace replaced the old billing machines and thermal printers with Android smart phones and Bluetooth printers. Apart from speeding up the billing process, the ESE Agrisolution is also used by field staff to capture all transactions at field level – even in hilly and remote terrains. It now holds a database of 1300 farmer profiles. By successfully piloting this at the Dixal cooperative, the rest of the cooperatives also came under SourceTrace’s coverage. It’s head, Jignesh Patel, says that each transaction now takes less than a minute – gone are the days of those serpentine queues, and far less the temptation for farmers to sell their produce to middlemen. For hundreds of farmers, saving time and effort became possible through the use of such a back-end web and mobile technology-based application.
This partnership programme became an award winning entry at 2015 [app] design awards ASIA under the category “Best expanded service or application”.
Today, at SourceTrace we’re happy to share our moment of pride and fulfillment, having made it as the cover story in the Food and Beverage Tech Review.
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