Bodhi Agro on Making Farmers Independent and Empowered

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bodhi-agro

You are not a Nepali if you have not once in your life heard or said  “Nepal is an Agriculture Based Economy”, just like you must have said, “I love Momos!”. But are we really? Is there evidence to validate that? Of course, we export a handful of our agricultural products to India, but do you know that the agricultural seed market of Nepal is predominantly ruled by Indian and Chinese seed manufacturers? This means that even our agriculture sector is primarily dependent on our Neighbours. 
The cost of seeds weighs on farmers, while they are subjected to other vulnerabilities as well. 

To uplift the living standard of the poor farmers and reduce the dependency upon others, Rupesh Sah has come up with an idea of Community Seed Production. Read below to know more.

1. Tell me about your journey to starting your idea?
I am involved in Rural Development and have visited different rural areas. During the visit, I saw that the farmers were living in extreme poverty. I wanted to help them to uplift their living standards. During my visit, I also met a foreigner who had come to Nepal for seed research. Through him, I found out that the farmers had problems with seed availability. As I wanted to help them and had knowledge of seed production, I thought of producing seeds in the community based model where farmers are involved in the production of seeds themselves.  

2. What is your idea about? What stage is the company in?
We depend upon India and China. There are two types of seeds; open-pollinated seed and hybrid seeds. Initially, I am planning to produce open-pollinated seeds as it can be easily produced with less investment; if the technology is available then I will also initiate hybrid seeds.  The hybrid seeds are imported from foreign markets, mainly India and China. Their seeds, in fact, have a monopoly in the Nepali seeds market. Through community seeds production, I want to reduce this dependency and produce seeds in Nepal. 
We will produce seeds for cash crops like corn, wheat, and other vegetables, and will follow a community-based model for the production. I will establish the plants for seed production and monitor the quality and production while the farmers themselves will produce seeds and will sell it to other farmers all over Nepal.  The farmers will also be taught organic farming and how they can increase their efficiency in production.
We have not established the company yet. Although, I have a registered shop through which I sell plant seeds, fertilizers and other required tools for agriculture.

4. What social problem are you trying to solve, and what social change can your product bring in society?
Basically, I want to uplift the living standard of the poor farmers and eradicate poverty. As we will involve the farmers in production, they will have side income for them besides farming. We might not be able to have a huge impact immediately, but we want to increase the productivity of the farmers by 50% so that they will have good returns.

5. How will you raise funds to start your company?
From the revenue of the shop I currently operate, I will produce open-pollinated seeds. However, for cash crops’ seeds and other hybrid seeds, I will look for collaboration with government bodies and other investors willing to invest in the agricultural field. From the agriculture department, we can transfer technology and production.  If fund and the technology available locally is not sufficient, we will collaborate with foreign donors looking to invest in Nepal.

6. What challenges do you foresee coming after you have established the company?
Currently, we are importing seeds from India and China, so there is a huge competition in the market. Similarly, we might not get the required technology to produce seeds. By using a technology provided in Nepal, we might not reach the quality and the cost provided by the competitors.

7. How will you overcome your challenges?
As the mass seed production cannot be done alone, I will start small; producing one type of seed at a time. Once there is sufficient funds and required technology, we will produce other seeds too.
I am planning to produce seeds in partnership with the Nepal Agriculture Research Center. Competitive analysis and cost analysis will be conducted and in accordance with that, we can market the seeds.

8. Who are your target customers? What is the business model for self-sufficiency or profit-making model?   
My target customers would-be farmers, co-operatives and women co-operatives. The seeds will be produced through a community-based model, where the farmers are involved in the production and the produced seeds are sold to other farmers through seed stores, agro co-operatives and different promotional events.

9. Do you measure the impact of your product/service? If not what are your thoughts about impact measurement?
Before and After the total Income of the community involved in the production can be compared to see the impact.

To know more about this idea, you can contact Rupesh at 9803967390, or write to him at sah.rupesh1990@gmail.com

Transcribed by Sadikshya Shrestha and edited by Shambhavi Singh