Saturday, June 8, 2013

USAID replicates Fazilka model of farm implements' library

In its effort to deal with food shortages, especially in the African continent, the US Agency for International Development has begun replicating the Fazilka "affordable mechanisation through pay-for-use model" of developing libraries of agricultural implements, to deal with the peculiar issues of those countries.

The Fazilka connection has happened after the model which was developed by local commerce graduate from a farmers' family, Vikram Ahuja about six years ago, recently caught the attention of the USAID through the FICCI. The USAID, which has a three year "feed the future" programme in Sub-Saharan countries, has tied up with Mr Ahuja's Zimindara Farm Solutions (ZFS) to build a cadre of African agricultural specialists trained in different aspects of development, mechanisation and commercialisation of the agriculture.

Second team of the Africa Lead project that is being managed by the Development Alternatives Incorp (DAI) for the USAID, is currently in India to study Mr Ahuja's model. The ZFS, which has now operations in about 500 villages in western districts of Punjab, Haryana and northern Rajasthan, through its own call centres and network of franchisees, loans out agricultural machines and implements that may vary from different sizes of tractors to precision planters, reversible mouldboard ploughs, bailers or harvesters. This has contributed in reducing the cost of production, increasing the yield and augmenting farmers' incomes as well as curtailing indebtedness.

Mr Ahuja explains that ZFS works as all-needs agricultural equipment company that also provides maintenance and parts, leases equipment with trained operators, establishes satellite enterprise village centres, provides training on best agronomic practices, optimum equipment use and also farm economics. It also links farmers to extension services and training capsules through video-conferencing with university and research facilities.

Through a communication, the Chief of Party for Africa Lead, David Tardif-Douglin, who also co-ordinates the Fazilka program, the story of the African farmer is quite similar to his Indian counterparts as agriculture there too was based on small holdings. "Farmers lack access to agricultural mechanisation to improve productivity and expand their production base," he says highlighting lack sufficient resources to purchase the necessary agricultural equipment.

One the of members from the Africa Lead delegation, Felix Temu from Tanzania was of the opinion that the Fazilka model would go a long way to transform agriculture in about three dozen African countries, which have been striving to move away from subsistence farming to sustainable agriculture.

Similarly, Nicholas Nabende, who is a manager for new business, vehicle and asset finance in Uganda's Stanbic Bank would want to promote the hire option to help farmers back home save on bad loans. He plans to work on re-structuring future agriculture leases and finance based on agriculture seasons and not monthly basis.

Sam Rubagumya, who is a managing director, with an agro-industrial house in Rwanda would seek to promote the Fazilka model that provides agricultural mechanisation services to small holding farmers growing maize and soybeans. The rental services for farm machinery, equipment and tools along with technical advice, service, maintenance and procurement of spare parts would improve farm profitability through higher yields.

No comments: