Aug 28, 2012
Sustainable rural development through effective farm services has been the guiding principle at the Krishak Bharati Cooperative Ltd (KRIBHCO), a Rs 4,000 crore conglomerate. The initiative aims at enhancing the livelihood of communities in over 2,500 villages across eight states. Managing Director of KRIBHCO, BD Sinha shares with OneWorld South Asia's Rakesh Sood how KRIBHCO has been lending a helping hand to the Indian farmer.
As the second largest producer of urea, a significant achievement of the fertiliser cooperative is that it avails the least per ton subsidy thanks to sound governance and good business practices. Excerpts from the interview:
OneWorld South Asia: What services are being provided to the farmers and how does the cooperative deliver these?
BD Sinha: We have dedicated teams of agricultural professionals who help transfer the latest farm technology to farmers and have undertaken rural welfare schemes for improving livelihoods. Under the scheme, the society has organised 2,669 programmes such as farmers' meetings, kisan melas, field demonstrations, and cooperative conferences benefiting about 10 lakh farmers.
Also, KRIBHCO's Kisan Pramersh Kendras provide free consultancy services on farm-related issues, propagate efficient and balanced use of fertilisers by testing soil for micro-nutrients and transmit information to the farmers through information technology or through our field representatives. All services are provided free of cost.
OWSA: What is the cooperative doing in the area of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)?
Sinha: A national-level organisation, Gramin Vikas Trust, has been established by KRIBHCO as a part of our CSR initiative with initial support from the government and the Department for International Development (DFID) of the UK. For the last few years it is being supported by KRIBHCO entirely and is engaged in improving the lot of rural communities in the remote and poorest areas of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal.
OWSA: What is KRIBHCO doing to enhance soil fertility?
Sinha: We have a state-of-the–art testing lab at our headquarters, which analyses soil samples being sent by farmers from different regions of the country. The deficiency report is sent to the farmers along with technical advice.
OWSA: As you know, seeds are a major input for increasing agricultural production. What kind of work is KRIBHCO doing on this front?
Sinha: Timely availability of seeds in adequate quantity at consuming points and at affordable prices is essential to enhance foodgrain production. KRIBHCO is the biggest certified seed producer in the fertiliser sector in the country. It has supplied 3,00,000 quintal seeds to farmers in the last fiscal year. It has 14 seed processing plants in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, and Rajasthan. The main crops under seed production are paddy, wheat, barley and maize, pulses,oil seeds, soya beans, etc.
OWSA: Has the cooperative taken up organic fertiliser production?
Sinha: Agriculture is going through a major change across the world and India is no exception. Application of organic fertiliser has emerged as an encouraging option to arrest land degradation and increasing contamination in food. Organic manure or compost use in the fields help in producing food of high nutritional value and reduce health risks by keeping harmful chemicals and pesticides out. We have initiated marketing of compost made from garbage from cities since 2009. During 2010-11, the society marketed about 17,350 mt of compost in 11 states and plans to sell 30,000 mt this year. Besides this, KRIBHCO is producing bio-fertilisers at three locations and making it available to farmers for enhancing the nutrient value of the soil.
OWSA: Do you have plans for KRIBHCO's diversification?
Sinha: We have a wholly-owned subsidiary, KRIBHCO Infrastructure Limited (KRIL) which was formed to undertake total logistics business including allied activities. The company is operating and maintaining rail link terminals and exploring possibilities to set up logistics parks, inland container depots, container freight stations, free trade warehousing zones, domestic container terminals preferably with railway sidings at various strategic locations. Land has already been acquired at Rewari in Haryana; Modinagar and Shahjahanpur in UP; Hindaun City in Rajasthan; and Gujarat.