Mastercard and ACCESS Development Services to Strengthen Farmer Producer Organizations in Assam
Guwahati, February 2023: Mastercard and ACCESS Development Services today announced the launch of a new program in Assam focused on empowering farmer-producer organizations (FPOs) in the state. The program, Mainstreaming Agriculture through Networks and Development Initiatives, or MANDI, aims to strengthen FPOs by helping build their capacity through structured technical assistance by a professional cadre of trainers.
Historically, smallholder farmers are unable to take advantage of economies of scale, struggle to access market information and linkages, and can face unfavorable prices for agricultural inputs as well as for their produce. Collectivization of smallholder farmers through FPOs has proven to be a successful model in India to address the challenges concerning access to markets and technology. However, many FPOs lack the resources, know-how, and tools to operate effectively. According to the ACCESS baseline survey of FPOs in Guwahati, 95% of organizations cited access to markets as their key challenge along with a lack of financial services and the awareness and knowledge to avail of government schemes.
Mastercard and ACCESS are aiming to help address these challenges by facilitating training frameworks, curricula, and tools for FPOs. The program will focus on accelerating growth and development among FPOs and enhancing the financial literacy among farmers by:
Training them in best agricultural practices
Improving their access to market linkages, and digital tools
Generating awareness about financial services along with the available government schemes
The program has been operational on a pilot basis in Assam for the last six months and has been able to onboard 83 FPOs to date. As it continues, MANDI aims to benefit 50,000 farmers by the end of 2023.
The launch event was attended by Shri Sankar Das, AGM, NABARD, Dr. Jayanta Sharma, Senior Scientist, Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Kahikuchi, Dr. Lalit Sharma, Director, Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship, and other distinguished guests.
Vipin Sharma, CEO, of ACCESS Development Services, said, “The adoption of agrotech solutions has played a vital role in streamlining the supply chains and addressing diverse challenges related to market linkages and access to financial services. There is a need to strengthen FPOs through technology to ensure increased connectivity and enhanced productivity. We are thrilled to collaborate with Mastercard and facilitate the tools, curriculum, and skills to ensure long-term sustainability for FPOs.”
Gautam Aggarwal, Division President, South Asia, Mastercard, said, “FPOs face several challenges to growth due to lack of digital infrastructure and technical skills. The MANDI program aims to address these issues by establishing a sustainable model that bolsters the resilience of smallholder farmers as well as supports self-reliance for FPOs by equipping them with knowledge, digital tools, and training. This initiative advances the Government of India’s vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat and reiterates Mastercard’s commitment to connecting more people to the digital economy, including those who earn their livelihoods from agriculture.”