Field Organization for Collective Action in Organic Farming and Community Development adopted by Khyati Foods Pvt. Ltd
The collective action of organized organic production of crops by small holders in India has evolved over the past decade and have either characterized themselves as groups managed as ICS (Internal Control Systems) or as PGS(Participative Guarantee Systems). Both ICS and PGS have their own merits and limitations. To increase farmers’ participation and decentralize the farmers’ organizations, KFPL has developed a model of collective guarantee system (CGS) which integrates all the components of ICS and has taken all the merits that PGS has on active participation of stakeholders, effective social networking and knowledge exchange.
The principles which KFPL has adopted for organization of farmers’ groups at grassroots level are as follows :
The following schematic illustrates the organization of farmers at the field level :
- Democratic control – farmers’ participation is the key for sustainable development. Farmer led organizations are foundation for effective implementation of collective actions for organic production and community development.
- Decentralization, Autonomous and Independent farmers groups - the freedom of farmers' associations to choose their development goals, their action programs, and the management of their resources, without external interference. The whole system of representation and decision-making process must come from below. This decentralization is the necessary condition for the effective participation of farmers and for the consideration of local realities. The decentralization of farmers' associations does not mean they should be dispersed. The institutional set-up for representation should be conceived as a set of decentralized structures, a local network which facilitates exchanges and cooperation between them and reinforces the whole system of representation vis- à-vis public and private partners.
- Capacity Building – knowledge sharing and providing external technical support will be a key component to improve the farmer’s ability to overcome challenges s/he is facing related to agricultural productivity, food security and quality management – thus ultimately leading to economic empowerment.
In this model, KFPL has adopted the role of a facilitating organization. The farmers organizations are democratically formed into community based organizations (CBO’s) like farmers’ clubs, women’s groups, self-help groups or youth groups. These groups are lead by Champion Farmers (Lead Farmers) and Development Animators. These CBO’s undertake all activities related to organized organic production of crops and simultaneously implement development initiatives like – soil and water conservation, tree plantation activities, savings programs, micro-enterprise development programs, livestock development programs etc. All activities of organic agriculture programs and community development are coordinated by an organic agriculture specialist and a community development specialist. This whole field organization will be headed by Social Enterprise Manager who will represent the facilitating role of KFPL.
Role of KFPL as a facilitating organization
The empowerment role is the cornerstone of this novel approach of facilitation. Field personnel have adopted their role is to help farmers and rural communities organize themselves and take charge (empowerment) of their growth and development. Telling adults what to do provokes reaction, but showing them triggers the imagination, involving them gives understanding, and empowering them leads to commitment and action.
The term empower means to enable, to allow, or to permit and can be viewed as both self-initiated and initiated by others. For field personnel, empowering is an act of helping communities to build, develop, and increase their power through cooperation, sharing, and working together. The power in empowerment comes from releasing the latent energy hidden in the community and building collective actions for the common good, rather than from merely redistributing power from the haves to the have-nots. CBO’s help harness this synergetic power for its members' survival, growth, and development. Empowered CBO’s act as convergent points or platforms for solving local problems and mobilizing human and financial resources for sustainable development.
Field workers have learnt the principles of community-organizing and group management skills in order to help the community, especially the poor or weaker sections, to organize itself for development. Understanding the structures, by-laws, rules, and roles has helped leaders to plan, implement, and monitor their programmes and to perform this new role effectively. Skills in conflict resolution, negotiation, and persuasive communication helps the Field workers to develop CBO leaders and members.
Human Resource Development Role
The human resource development approach empowers people and gives new meaning to all other roles. Development of technical capabilities must be combined with management capability. The entire philosophy of human capacity building is to encourage rural communities to understand their personal and group styles of managing themselves and to improve their planning, implementation, and monitoring skills.
Problem-Solving and Education Role
Problem solving is an important role, but the role is changing from prescribing technical solutions to empowering CBO’s to solve their own problems. This is achieved by helping them to identify the problems and seek the right solutions by combining their indigenous knowledge with improved knowledge and by using their resources properly. Similarly, there is a shift in the education role from lectures, seminars, and training to learning by doing and encouraging farmers and CBO’s to conduct experiments and undertake action-learning projects.
Following are the basic differences between the ICS driven model and this model :
- Under the ICS system, the mandating organization (the organization which holds the certificate) acts as a contracting agency. All the farmer stakeholders are only contracted farmers under the ICS system. Whereas under the CGS system – farmers are not contractors but partners in the organic production system.
- The ICS driven model is concerned only about the organic production of the crops purchased by the company. Whereas, in this model, KFPL involves in the organic production of all the crops produced by the farmers (whether brought by the company or not) and also emphasizes on the local and household food and nutritional security of the farming communities involved.
- ICS models are not involved in the community development activities. Whereas this model has an equal focus on the community development activities as envisaged by the farming and non-farming communities in the villages.