Problem

The Green Revolution in India relied on hybrid varieties and intensive application of irrigation and fertilizers to boost production of staples like wheat and rice which indirectly stimulated erosion of land races and wild varieties of traditional crops which are rich in nutrients. The micronutrient crisis has hit India. Unhealthy agricultural practices by the marginalized farmers to increase productivity degrade the natural ecosystem, soil productivity and break the nutrient value chain. Unorganized marginaralized farmers and weak operational functionality of Primary Agricultural Cooperative Societies which are working for production and marketing agricultural products hinders to achieve broader social and economic goal of the members under these Cooperatives and also socio-economic development of the nation.

Solution

The proposed idea aims to form a Central Body of Cooperatives of Youth from existing 305 Primary Agricultural Cooperative Societies (PACS) which are functional throughout Bankura district in West Bengal for agricultural production and marketing. This aims to bring all the PACS under a same umbrella to achieve a broader economic and social goal among the members and society. The members under this Central Cooperative can be called as Ecoforce. Now it aims to enhance the indigenous capacity of the Ecoforce related to sustainable agricultural practices in their respective agro climatic zone through demonstration farming by the experts who will improve the knowledge gap among the Youth related to newly developed tools and methods in agricultural development. This idea also aims to improve their financial and operational functionality related to proper utilization of fund, credit assistance among the members, marketing of products and consumer subscription by the proper resource persons.

Example

The Primary activities of Ecoforce are to generate awareness & build up the capacity of the unorganized local small farmers level & bring them under its aegis. They will act as early warning agents for degradation of natural ecosystem in their respective geographical regions. Ecoforce will also support grassroots level initiative those who are working & struggling in traditional farming. In this regards life story of Mr. Debal Das is so inspiring. He has been for more than 15 years saving the rarest rice species. The ecologist has an untiring devotion to his mission [His interview is on indiasendangered.com: Saving the Rarest of Rice]. He says "Once I walked 13 km in search of a farmer who had a rare folk rice seed. But when I reached his home, he had passed away. His son then destroyed his folk rice seeds and ‘modernised’ the setup". Ecoforce will act as a Central Body for agricultural credit linkage among the members & gradation of agricultural products, policy making & marketing of agricultural products. They will directly link with District Wholesale Consumer Cooperative Societies which is a Central body 102 Primary Consumer Cooperative society. They will also form a dynamic network of Co-operatives working in local, national & international level for knowledge sharing & information related to newly developed tools and systems for sustainable agriculture practices. For example: Membership of International Co-operative Alliance & World Wide Opportunity on Organic Farms (WWOOF) will open a Global platform of partnership to meet & interact with the people & know their work around the world.

Impact

In Bankura, agriculture accounts for almost 70% of the district's income whereas 80% of the farmers are small & marginal. Around 98500 farmers are engaged with 305 PACS which are operational in the district in agricultural production and marketing. Choosing one member from each PACS and building their capacity aims to reach to all 98500 farmers under PACS and around 2 lakh unorganized local farmers in their respective geographical regions. They will motivate, build up their capacity, monitor and map the quality products maintaining natural ecosystem. This will ensure the generation and flow of nutrients from the environment to people. Customer subscription at pre-cultivation session will make customer being more aware of environmental-friendly products than other products in the same product category. Likewise, this may encourage agricultural industries to manufacture and market such products. The emerging trends of Eco label products will definitely open a new market for Ecoforce.

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