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Development through Agripreneurship

Miguel Braganza

The word ‘agripreneur’ was coined to refer to an entrepreneur in agriculture. Farmers rarely know how to do business and economists only lament that the ‘middleman’ or trader makes the quick buck. Rare is the agency that helps the farmer learn how to do business. All holy protestations notwithstanding, many NGOs simply replace the middleman with themselves. That is changing now with techies entering into farming to produce a new breed of farmers. Perhaps, they can be role models to the sons and daughters of traditional farmers. The ABC of education stands for ‘Attitude, Behaviour Change’ and this is important for entrepreneurship to happen in agriculture.

When the Prime Minister of India announced his wish to double farmers’ income by 2022, almost all state governments began to encourage the farmers to double their crop production. The consequences: glut in the market resulting in distress sales and dumping of farm produce in the streets. Since the days of Adam Smith, it is well known that when the supply increases and the demand remain static, the price of the commodity decreases. This is exactly what happened, much to the consternation of our agricultural scientists and extension agencies that are managed by men with blinkered vision. They know arithmetic but not economics. What is needed is to increase the demand and to explore value-addition of the product by processing, packaging or marketing strategy.

Building on the success of the Western Ghats Kokum Foundation (WGKF) in promoting export and value addition of the kokum fruit or garcinia indica to assure a better income at the farmers’ gate, the agriculture committee of the Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry or GCCI conducted a similar project for the jackfruit during the last four years. When the WGKF offered kokum-growers grafts of a superior variety of kokum, the farmers had simply turned around and asked: “So who is buying the kokum we process now at a price that is remunerative to us?” Successful marketing and profitability is what motivates farmers to grow more of what sells better. It increases his profitability and net income. We hope this will be a strategy proposed by the consultants selected by the Government of Goa for the conceptualisation of an agriculture policy for the state.

 Jackfruit or artocarpus heterophyllus is indigenous to the rain forests in the Western Ghats of India. Jackfruit seeds which are rich in protein and gluten-free are gathered from the ripe fruit, sun-dried and stored for use in rainy season to cook a variety of dishes. They are roasted or boiled and eaten as a snack or added to curries in place of lentils. Biscuits, cakes, vada, roti and pappads are made from the gluten-free jackfruit seed flour. The latest addition is a caffeine-free coffee alternative simply called ‘jaffee’.

On June 22, enjoy fresh jackfruit chips, milkshakes, pakodas and jaffee from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Ponnsachem Fest on Socorro Church grounds, off NH-66 at the Porvorim-Guirim junction. The festival will also feature a live band and entertainment along with demonstrations in grafting and gardening.

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