New technology empowers women farmers in India
Since its inception almost a decade ago, JEEVIKA, a World Bank program that supports Bihar’s rural communities, has mobilised more than nine million women into self-help and producers groups. The program has helped lower costs and boost agricultural production, according to the World Bank.
For many years, unfair and archaic trading practices in addition to irregular payment schedules made it difficult for small farmers, especially women, to get the best value for their produce. Frustrated with this reality, women in the Purnea district in Bihar—one of India’s poorest states – created their own company.
The Aaranyak Agri Producer Company Limited (AAPC) is an all-women owned company that established a farmer-centric model and receives funding and technical assistance through JEEVIKA. By joining forces with JEEVIKA, AAPC was able to lower costs and boost their agricultural production. Together, the groups saved $120 million and leveraged more than $800 million in bank loans.
AAPC has been able to use digital technology as an innovative way to improve the production, marketing, and sale of small-farmers’ produce. For example, women farmers receive regular periodic updates on their mobile phones to learn best practices to grow corn as well as weather information to inform farming decisions, according to the World Bank report.
The women behind AAPC have also pioneered widespread use of digital moisture metres to test the quality of corn, thus bypassing the arbitrary quality testing performed by local traders and providing a fair incentive to farmers.
The company became the first women-owned business entity in Bihar to register on the National Commodity Exchange (NCDEX) and are now able to trade directly online with buyers and traders across the country.
According to the World Bank, JEEVIKA’s inclusive approach of empowering and connecting women farmers with formal agri-markets through digital technology is now being replicated across India and emulated across the globe from Afghanistan to Nigeria.
AIDF Global Summit will return to Washington D.C., USA in September 2019.
If you’d like to stay informed on the latest updates in aid and development, please sign up for the AIDF newsletter.
Photo Credit: World Bank