Seed for farmers is a big challenge, says Rajvir
In an interaction with Smart AgriPost, Rajvir Pawar, Member, Beej India Producer Company Limited says it’s a company of farmers, espousing the cause of ‘farmers to entrepreneurs’
Q. Please tell briefly about Beej India Producer Company Limited.
Ans. Beej India Producer Company Limited started in 2010 under the guidance of former Indian Agriculture Research Institute (IARI) Director, Dr H S Gupta. The concept was to form a company of farmers and produce quality seeds for the farmers at a very reasonable price. Initially 20 farmers joined as share holders and formed the company. Five directors from among 20 farmers and two expert directors from IARI took care of the day to day functions of the company.
Q. How are you associated? What is your contribution?
Ans. I’m a founder member and shareholder of the company. I became Chief Executive Officer of the company in 2014. The company was not doing well in early stages. But, I worked hard to turn around the organisation. We started paddy seed sales in Pusa Kishan Mela 2014 and made a good profit.
Q. How is this company different from others?
Ans. First of all, it’s company of farmers and for farmers. We provide breeder seeds to our member farmers. And support them marketing the seeds. The most important thing is that 90% of the total sales go to the farmer and 10% goes to the company. All technical and research supports are being provided by IARI.
We champion the cause of ‘farmers to entrepreneurs’.
Q. What is the roadmap of Beej India for 2015?
We want to expand the company across the country. We plan to open sales counters in other states too. Our motto is to provide quality seeds at a very reasonable price to all our farmer brothers. There is a provision in our company that one director can associate 20 farmer members and they will be given shares and profits as per their involvement. It is necessary to reach out farmers from other states and make them associates. Because, each state is having distinct soil, water and environment condition and the need of the hour is to produce seed varieties suitable to climatic condition of a locatio.
Q. What is the biggest challenge for farmers now?
Ans. Being a farmer, I have closely seen the changing scenario of agriculture in the country. What I believe is that the biggest challenge for a farmer is ‘the first right on seed’. First right on seed means the farmer(s) will have the right to produce seed and use it. Of late, it is seen that some multinational companies modify genes, produce new variety of seeds and patent these seeds under intellectual property rights, thereby barring farmers to produce seeds of the crop variety. It’s unethical. It’s worthwhile to mention that in the biodiversity conference in Rio De Janerio, Brazil in 1980s, it was unanimously agreed that the first right on seeds will remain with farmers. But later on multinational companies modified genes of crop varieties, patented under IPR and implemented through WTO. It’s a big game plan of multinational seed companies like Monsanto, Cargill to control over the seeds across world. This is a big challenge for farmers in other countries too.
Q. What do you say about the current agriculture policy of India?
Ans. The agricultural policy of the country has to be overhauled. It is sad that a bill namely Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) was proposed by the last UPA government. There was a harsh provision to deprive the farmers of their democratic rights to criticise against the seed policy and the bad effects of gene modified technology.
The BJP government at centre is also equally harsh on the farmers. The land ordinance brought by the Modi government proposes to acquire lands without the consent of farmers. Also, the compensation price has been reduced. The proposed industrial corridor from Delhi to Mumbai, Mumbai to Bangalore, Bangalore to Chennai, Chennai to Kolkata and Kolkata to Ludhiana will cover a huge tract of land. It is estimated 60 per cent of land of Rajasthan will be covered under this project. Could you imagine what kind of impact will it have on the farmers, especially on the small farmers? The government claims by developing this industrial corridor, employment opportunities will be generated for youths. But reality is that no modern technology can create employment opportunities as the agriculture sector will do.