Agriculture-Based Entrepreneurship

Darjeeling

Improving the livelihood of small-scale farmers through entrepreneurship and online market access in Darjeeling District, West Bengal, India

Darjeeling District

Darjeeling district is known worldwide for its famous black tea and spices such as black pepper and cardamom. While big producer cater to the world market, the majority of small-scale farming communities in the region are tribal, marginalized and still practice agriculture traditionally without mechanization. This process not only involves a lot of manpower, but is also highly inefficient in terms of quantity produced per hour. Therefore, a good harvest for the farmers does not result in equivalent return, as they are not able to process the harvest efficiently and promptly to be sold in the local market. Further, due to high cost of transportation adding to their burden, the farmers are restricted and forced to sell their produce at local markets or to middlemen at prices with marginal or no profits. Due to ever increasing financial liabilities, the small-scale farmers lack means to invest in mechanization for farming or to access suitable markets with commensurate pricing for their products.

The project and its objectives

The project aims at improving the livelihood of impoverished small-scale farmers from local tribal communities. In Spring 2019, Soceo started the project by conducting a Baseline Study. Based on the results, the agri-entrepreneurship training was customized and 300 women farmer were trained. In addition, the farmers’ agricultural practice was improved by trainings in sustainable agriculture. To offer further the possibility to value-add the women’s produce, mechanical units for processing of harvest were installed in two locations. They can be accessed by the beneficiaries and beyond by the local community. To improve the market access of the farmers, the women were connected to an e-commerce platform so that they can sell their products also in more distant markets.

The project is being implemented by the local women’s cooperative Madhovita. It is supported by Lemonaid & Charitea Foundation from Germany.