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This Makar Sankranti get to know an app that makes farmers lives better

Team YS
posted on 15th January 2015
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Bail a farmer out of debt, you keep him alive till harvest. Instil an entrepreneurial approach to farming, empower him for a lifetime.

This tweet, posted by Ronnie Screwvala yesterday, highlights a relatively newly emerging attitude towards the nation’s most famous resource- its farmers. Enough of constant projections of them as poverty stricken, debt ridden, suicidal anguished beings struggling for survival. Yes, Indian farmers have been committing suicides at an alarming rate. This alarm is only shadowed by the government’s apathy to their suffering. Young Indian entrepreneurs have a different idea for change. By equipping farmers with the technology to steer their own fate, we empower farmers to be break out of exploitation. We empower them to be what they really are- the throbbing pulse of the nation.

Makar-Sankranti
Image source - http://www.shutterstock.com/

The Makar Sankranti festival is also referred to as the harvest festival. This is the time when harvesting is complete, and there are big celebrations underway. This is the day we acknowledge all those who assisted in making the harvest. We, at YourStory, take this opportunity to thank all the farmers who make our lives so easy and comfortable. We salute Indian farmers for their backbreaking toil, so we can do every day what we set out to do.

Venkat Maroju grew up in rural Telangana in south India. He witnessed first-hand the inhumane conditions farmers had to suffer through to eke out a living. These producers of food ironically remain at the bottom of the food chain and are at the mercy of unscrupulous money lenders, a stubbornly apathetic government system and the vagaries of the weather. According to reports, during 1995 to 2005 the Telangana region has accounted for the highest number of farmer suicides in the world. Generally, Farmer suicides account for 11.2% of all suicides in India.

A bright student in school, Venkat did really well for himself in life. He went to US for higher studies and embarked on a career working for big multinationals like Bose Corporation. But he came back to India to pursue what his heart always wanted- to help improve the lives of farmers. He joined SourceTrace as the CEO. SourceTrace Systems specializes in mobile applications for developing economies with a primary focus on agriculture.

SourceTrace’s software enables the digitization of field-level transaction data about smallholder farmers.  This data is captured at the source, on the farm. Some of the most typical applications include the following -

  • Full visibility in the agriculture value chain ( you know who the farmer is, in the process make the farmer the rightful participant in the value generation and ensure that the transparency brings proper recognition to him monetarily).
  • Quick, efficient farmer payment facilitation.
  • Traceability of the produce and enhanced quality control.
  • Reduced leakage, eliminated latency and increased trading spreads.
  • Real-time business geo-locational reporting.
  • Forecasting accuracy and yield management better human resource management.
  •  Premiums for certified commodities.

Activist and journalist P. Sainath, who has been tirelessly advocating for this cause for decades, says,

The cruelty of what is going on is what is the most astonishing. People coming out of fucking London School of Economics, who don’t know their ass from their elbow; Assholes from the Harvard School of Development Studies sit as consultants wearing three piece suits somewhere and make decisions for farmers whose lives they know nothing about, whose work they know nothing about.

 Their welfare is our welfare. If you are an entrepreneur, or an aspiring one, resolve to do what matters most, what the country needs the most. India is first and foremost an agricultural country. Its identity is rooted in its agrarian past. Let’s ring in a future together that celebrates that past. Here’s to the farmers!

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