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Tapping CSR for strategic farmer-business linkages in India

Sep 07, 2015

Experts have urged for tapping CSR funds for creating farmer oriented market linkages to make farming a profitable vocation.

New Delhi: Indian farmer is not a happy person today as the occupation has ceased to be a profitable venture for the majority of small and marginalised farmers, and unless the situation is changed in the favour of food-providers, the challenge of food security is only going to worsen in India.

To address this issue, experts from various organisations including public sector undertakings (PSUs) and the civil society representatives called for channelling the funds meant for corporate social responsibility for creating strategic linkages between farmers, businesses and techno-managerial agencies through CSR.

According to a 2014 report by CRISIL, approximately 3.2 crore farmers have quit agriculture in the last seven years for better paying jobs in industrial and service sectors. “Due to economic slump in the recent years about 1.2 crore people should be returning to agriculture between fiscal 2012 and fiscal 2019 due to unavailability of jobs in the urban areas,” the report states.

Speaking at a seminar in New Delhi, Dr Balvir Talwar, General Manger, Head, CSR, Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL), said that the industry should benefit the society in the area from where it operates.

L P Semwal, chairman, Shri Jagadamba Samiti (SJS), talking about Annamrit, an endeavour to institutionalise the investment part of social enterprises in agricultural chain, said that CSR money should be utilised for building collective entrepreneurship among farmers.

“We are looking forward to replicate the model of social enterprises through grants or CSR. The CSR funds should be routed for creating agri-value chains wherein the farmer is a basic stakeholder,” he said.

H S Gupta, Director General, Borlaug Institute for South Asia (BISA), a non-profit international research institute dedicated to food, nutrition and livelihood security, said that Indian farmer is not a happy man.

Gupta said that farming is not profitable for small and marginal farmers. “A survey shows 40 per cent farmers want to quit farmers. In South Asia 94% of arable lands is used for agriculture. Therefore, we need to look for more ways for attracting funds through CSR,” he said.

Seema Bathla from Centre for the Study of Regional Development (CSRD), Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), said that the linkages of the industry with farmers are very low in India.

Seema said that the condition of farmers cannot improve unless the industry-agriculture linkages are enhanced. “There is not so strong linkage of agriculture with the unorganised retail sector,” she said.


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