NalaBachatSamiti, the community of 86 tribal farmers that started as a collective action against middleman exploitation of their agricultural produce, is now in the 6th year of its inception. From a small group of farmers who united to save themselves from middleman exploitation, the group now discusses business terms like profit, annual turnover and break even sales. In this edition, I shall give a glimpse of some of the new initiatives taken by NalaBachatSamiti. The procurement of raw tuar (lentil) started from the beginning of January. The target of procurement in this year was 30MT. To achieve this huge target, the members of NalaBachatSamiti opened 6 new procurement centers in Kotra block and the members took turns to man them tirelessly for the entire 3 months of procurement. This year SevaMandir provided NalaBachatSamiti with a digital moisture meter and trained the members on the usage of the same. NalaBachatSamiti procured each lot of tuar from the farmers after calculating moisture and asked owner of any lot whose moisture content was more than 15% to dry the same and deliver it to the dal mill. As a result NalaBachatSamiti was able to save 5% of overall cost which it lost every year due to moisture content in pulses. To process this huge quantity of raw tuar the members of NalaBachatSamiti took turns and ensured that the dal mill keeps spinning round the clock. The members of NalaBachatSamiti has also searched for and found new clients for dal and its by-products.
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Babu, along with his parents, wife and children, lives in Medi village. The region is inhabited by tribal people living in extreme poverty. Babu is a farmer with a small piece of land; like most others in this area, his main produce is lentils. In fact, his family has worked in the fields here for generations, cultivating this staple crop.
Compared with many others in his community, Babu managed his finances well and he tried always to invest in good quality seeds and regular irrigation. But despite his best efforts, his family income remained low, mainly because of a lack of proper storage for his crops and problems with transport.
Every time he wanted to sell some of his harvest, Babu had three choices: he could travel to the market using local transport, which raised his costs; he could walk the several miles there; or he could sell his lentils through middle-men, in which case he would not receive a fair price.
Over time, the financial position of his family worsened until some were forced to leave the village in search of labourer work. But even this radical step didn’t protect them from hunger.
Several years ago, the solution for this family's increasingly precarious situation came with a Seva Mandir agriculture programme: Babu and 86 others from his community were given support and proper training to become co-owners of a dal mill.
The principal aims of the project are to operate along ethical lines, guarantee proper storage for the harvests and ensure fair prices to the farmers by cutting out the middle-men. The farmers who are part of the cooperative are now able to control the process of dal making and selling, they are guaranteed a fair market price for their crops and they receive a share of any future profits.
Thanks to the generosity of Seva Mandir's supporters who made this project possible, the economic situation of Babu's family continues to improve. As one of the farmers participating in the dal mill cooperative, he is able to support his family and provide them with a decent standard of living.
His initial contribution to the project was 100 rupees (£1 or $2). This investment, and the support of Seva Mandir in enabling the farmers to realise the scheme, has given Babu assurance that his efforts will bring him appropriate rewards. Indeed, with time he will be able to cultivate a little more of the land and further ensure that his large family's finances are stable.
The future is now brighter for them all.
We wish to thank you for your continued support.
Atul Lekhra Follow us on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/sevamandir
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Since 1968, Seva Mandir has worked with 360,000 people across 700 villages in southern Rajasthan, one of the world’s poorest regions, where people live on an average of USD 0.35 a day, to build cohesive and inclusive communities whose members are able to participate actively in the local decision-making which affects their daily lives.
Fostering democratic participation in the affairs of the community is the foundation for all of Seva Mandir’s interventions in the region and is a key element of its success in supporting deprived rural communities.
Seva Mandir has worked in partnership with these people, not only to improve their material well-being, but to build stronger and more ethical communities. Through its programs on governance, health, education, sustainable use of natural resources, women’s empowerment, youth development, child care and social enterprise, Seva Mandir makes a tangible and transformative impact.
At Seva Mandir, very modest amounts of money go a very long way toward improving people’s lives, and our success has been recognized through a long list of awards and partnerships with distinguished funders and the Indian government.
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It has been 6 years since the formation of Nala Bachat Samiti, a group of 86 tribal farmers who are the real owners of the dal mill. From the day of its inception, Nala Bachat Samiti has taken active responsibility in undertaking operations of the dal mill. Members of Nala Bachat Samiti has played active role in procurement of raw pulses during the procurement seasons. They have also participated in the operations of machinery in the dal mill. Regular meetings have been organized over the years providing information and updates to members of Nala Bachat Samiti. Nala Bachat Samiti has matured enough to undertake the role of conflict resolution in the dal mill. Recently, the workers in the dal mill were heckled and harassed by a tribal villager named Vivek (name changed) who is also a disgruntled alcoholic. There have been quite a number of instances when he has beaten up workers in the dal mill and forcefully taken away dal without paying. In the recent meeting with Nala Bachat Samiti, this incident was brought up and a resolution was asked for from the Samiti (group). The members of the Nala Bachat Samiti, which included a family member of Vivek, unanimously decided to take turns to guard the dal mill from intrusion as also warned Vivek against future misbehavior with employees of the dal mill.
Having said that, the members of Nala Bachat Samiti have agreed to motivate more villagers to deliver their produce in the dal mill to meet the increased target of 80 tonnes of raw pulses. The new procurement centres in the villages will also be manned and monitored by members of Nala Bachat Samiti. Over time, the Nala Bachat Samiti will be empowered enough to take its own responsibilities in the entire operations of the dal mill.
Once again thank you so much for your continuous support to our program.
Greetings from Seva Mandir.
It has been six years since the inception of dal mill. From a mere procurement of 65 quintals to the current procurement of 282 quintals. From simply procuring from farmers to processing and selling of dal through intervention at all stages of the value chain, the dal mill has seen it all. We started selling small quantities of dal to staff of Seva Mandir. From there to tapping clients to the likes of Hotel Taj Lake Palace, Hotel Laxmi Vilas, Banyan Roots and Sahakari Ubhokta Bhandar, the growth has been phenomenal. Last week, the Annual General Meeting of Sadhna (a women enterprise) was held. The chief guest of that meeting was Mr. William, the CEO of Fabindia. He was offered a sample of the dal produced by Nala Bachat Samiti. He cooked it at his home and liked its taste to the extent that he has expressed interest to purchase all the dal in whatever quantities we can provide him for his newly acquired India Organics. This once again testifies to the superior quality of the dal. Now that the dal mill is slowly coming to a sustainable mode, we have decided to massively scale up its capacity. The targeted procurement for next financial year is a phenomenal 800 quintals. Going by the progress its making every year, its not long before dal from Nala Bachat Samiti becomes a household name.
Thank you so much for your support.
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