Partnering for agri-value chain joint ventures

“Win-win partnerships needed to usher in food and livelihood security for all”, says Semwal of Shri Jagadamba Samiti Uttarkashi, India: On the occasion of World Food Day, Shri L P Semwal, Chairman of Shri Jagadamba Samiti (SJS) called upon stakeholders like farmers, civil society, investors, corporations and government actors to work together to strike win-win partnerships to usher in food and livelihood security for all. Referring to this year’s theme of World Food Day is "Family Farming: Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth”, Mr Semwal underlined the importance of family farming and smallholder farmers in eradicating hunger and poverty, providing food security and nutrition and improving livelihoods through sustainable farming practices in rural areas as has been espoused by FAO. Talking at a small farmers' meet, Mr Semwal spoke of his experience in civil society action while highlighting how SJS has been promoting a social business approach to agri-business to enable small producers to jointly own agri-value chains so that they share business benefits and secure their livelihood security as well as ensure food security for all. It entails organising farmers and motivating all players to understand the financial as well as social returns on smart investment in agriculture sector to secure food and farmers' future. SJS runs the highly acclaimed Apple Project in Uttarakhand along with a consortium of partners, including Stichting Het Groene Woudt (SHGW) in the Netherlands, Fresh Food Technology (FFT). The project involves bringing together farmers in joint venture companies to enable them to secure better prices for their produce. The model has provided the farmers with the capacity to sell their products directly to the consumers and take charge of the prices, thus eliminating the role of middlemen. This has resulted in better prices for small farmers, in turn improving the quality of their lives. The Apple Project initiative was recently hailed by Mr Sanjeev Chopra, Mission Director, National Horticulture Mission, when he congratulated SJS and the farmers associated with the NGO for providing recognition to the apples of Uttarkashi. Mr Chopra recently visited the state of the art facility of SJS in Uttarkashi. The partnership of farmers’ organisations (as producers), NGOs (organisers), business professionals (entrepreneurs) and investors is key to the success of the Apple Project initiative. For the replication of this idea of partnership for rural prosperity, a consortium of like minded individuals and organisations -- Anna-Annad (food and eaters of food) -- is being set up. SJS, SHGW and OneWorld have organised a series of seminars and roundtable discussions in this direction last year.