Integrating Poor Into Market Systems (IPMAS)
The majority of India’s poorest people are subsistence farmers with small land holdings, typically less than 1.4 hectares. IDEI’s approach to poverty reduction and rural development is to put income-generating technologies into the hands of the rural poor families. To accomplish this, IDEI stimulates the local private sector to:
i) Consider poor farmers as a viable market and
ii) Provide them with productivity-enhancing tools at a price that is affordable yet fair to manufacturers and distributors.
IDEI’s technical expertise lies in improving agricultural efficiency through technological innovation. IDEI’s approach leads to the creation of entirely new markets. Products that did not exist previously are manufactured and sold, generating new income for the supply chain members. The products are purchased by the rural poor and used to improve production and increase income from existing resources. This generates a ripple effect that translates into boosting other smaller economies within the villages. The result is therefore, true wealth creation (as opposed to wealth redistribution) with benefits accruing directly to the rural poor.
Towards promoting/ accessing these technologies several constraints may occur. Through several studies and deeper analysis, IDEI has identified that these constraints may occur at one of three levels in the commodity chains within which smallholders operate:
• The input market - the enterprises and organizations that provide the goods, services, and information required for agricultural production.
• The on farm - the household production unit that consumes inputs to cultivate crops for self-consumption and for sale to output markets.
• The output market - the enterprises and organizations that provide the goods, services, and information required to move the small farm production from field to consumers at economically rewarding prices.
A thorough analysis of constraints at each market level and in each constraint category will normally result in a long and daunting list of market constraints. In order to limit and focus the potential areas of intervention, constraints are prioritized to identify the “key logs in the logjam” that can unleash growth potential for large numbers of smallholders. Such leverage points may be found by identifying nodes in the value chain where a small number of firms act as intermediaries for large numbers of smallholders, or by taking advantage of geographic clustering of similar enterprises or production systems, or by identifying policy levers that will remove constraints for many market actors at once. Constraints are ranked and prioritized based on the potential impact on smallholder income and the number of smallholders affected.
The grid below provides an overview of the constraints that hinder smallholders’ ability to take advantage of the market opportunities.
To enable smallholder farmers overcome some of these constraints (not all as yet!), IDEI has successfully pilot tested and now successfully launched its Integrating Poor Into Market Systems Programme.
Under the programme an effort towards addressing the above mentioned constraints is made. This includes, helping the farmers overcome the primary barrier of accessing water for irrigation by promoting treadle pump technology by means of promotional activities (such as dynamic, static and mass media) and by establishing the supply chain consisting of manufacturers, dealers and village based mechanics. In addition to making affordable irrigation technologies, IDEI helps the farmers further reduce input cost by identifying some of the user farmer (the bright sparks amongst them) as nursery growers and sustainable agricultural practices (SAP) entrepreneur who in turn sell horticultural materials and SAP materials such as vermi wash, pot manure etc. In order to help the farmers get a better return, IDEI team collects market information on high value crops (from local markets, haats etc) and this is followed by a complete analysis of what all crops the farmers are currently undertaking followed by a cost benefit analysis. Cultivation of those with envisaged higher returns are then discussed and adopted by the farmers and the IDEI team connects them with the established nursery growers and SAP entrepreneurs. In addition to this, the team also collects best practices being already followed by farmers/ suggested which are then whetted by the experts and then upon confirmation, these are compiled, documented and then disseminated amongst the smallholder farmers.
As the last connecting link, local traders and other players in the markets are identified. The team makes an effort to interface the farmers with the local traders and other similar stakeholders. This helps the farmer to negotiate a better price for their produce.
The programme is being implemented across three states of Bihar, Orissa and Uttar Pradesh. IDEI is keen on scaling up this programme in other parts of the country.
Under IPMAS IDEI is promoting sustainable agricultural practices. Written below is a brief about them:
The word “sustain,” from the Latin sustinere (sus-, from below and tenere, to hold), to keep in existence or maintain, implies long-term support or permanence. As it pertains to agriculture, sustainable describes farming systems that are “capable of maintaining their productivity and usefulness to society indefinitely. Such systems... must be resource-conserving, socially supportive, commercially competitive, and environmentally sound.” [John Ikerd, as quoted by Richard Duesterhaus in "Sustainability's Promise," Journal of Soil and Water Conservation (Jan.-Feb. 1990) 45(1): p.4. NAL Call # 56.8 J822]
As the definition suggests, SAP allows the user farmer to most effectively use available on farm resources, preserving the natural resources (their quality such as that of soil), making the business of farming more cost effective/ economically viable and it could be said that overall enhances the quality for farmers and society as a whole.