At a time when farmer suicides and loan-waivers are making headlines, there are a few in Punjab setting examples on turning the age-old profession profitable. In the state, there is a set of farmers which is shunning mandis and selling the produce directly to consumers at a fixed maximum retail price.
Ravi Dhingra, from Fazilka, shares his marketing model with The Indian Express: “I avoid selling any fruit in the wholesale mandis. My buyers are mainly fruit retailers from Fazilka, Ferozepur, Sri Ganganagar and other nearby towns, who lift their stock straight from my orchard.”
Dhinga, who like most others in the state was growing only wheat and paddy until 2010, also sells through a Gurgaon-based online direct-to-consumer fruit trading platform and a natural agriculture-promoting NGO) at Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Chandigarh.
Similarly, Tarsem Singh and Bhupesh Saini have also come up with a new brand. Saini launched a 0.5-inch jaggery candy cube. He, along with his friend from Chandigarh, decided to market the product under the ‘Jaggic’ brand name.
Both availed Rs 25-lakh financial assistance under the Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme to launch a small unit for production and packing of the candy in a 500 square-feet area in Singh’s farm. The product is sold through a separate marketing channel and it’s a win-win for both the parties, he adds.
“The future for farmers is in selling from fields and not selling in mandis. We should be price makers, not price takers,” Dhingra tells The Indian Express.
Similar to them, there are various other farmers in the state that are ditching mandis and selling their produce directly. It has not only helped them in practising profitable farming but also developing new marketing models.
However, government also needs to pitch in more aggressively to improve the state of farmers. “The government must subsidise investment in crops that will ultimately generate good income. If that is guaranteed, there will be no farmer suicides or any need to waive-off loans,” says Dhingra.