Mumbai: The coconut tree, often called ‘Kalpavriksha’, is very common in southern parts of the country. Focusing on these traditional coconut producing states, Marico Ltd, one of India’s leading Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) majors, has launched an initiative for the coconut breeders. This flagship programme was named as ‘Kalpavriksha’.
With an objective of taking farmers beyond the traditional agricultural practices, Marico took it upon itself to train them in a gamut of agricultural management. Marico has successfully spearheaded several training sessions in these states and educating farmers on scientific and modern practices that have boosted the agrarian tradition with technological innovation.
This project has therefore benefitted more than 130,000 farmers to create economically and environmentally resilient farm enterprises. It has also enrolled approximately 11000 farmers across 1500 villages. As of now, through Kalpavriksha, Marico has conducted more than 100 training sessions impacting more than 7500 farmers. The farmers have witnessed an increase of 18% in their productivity during the initial period.
According to Udayraj Prabhu, Executive Vice President (EVP) and Head, Business Process Transformation and Information Technology (IT), in 2015, Marico established a ‘Farmer Support Program’ wherein farmers from Thanjavore were enrolled for improving their crop yield and thereby increasing farm income.
Approximately, 4800 farmers were trained across 91 villages. After a year of studying various farm practices, conducting experiments and introducing practices led to promising results for increasing farmer productivity by up to 20%, thereby increasing the income by 40%.
Considering the need of farmers and having established the effectiveness in Thanjavore, the program was expanded across 4 states (Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh) under the brand name of Parachute Kalpavriksha for benefiting a large number of coconut farmers.
“Kalpavriksha, initiated on the World Coconut Day (2 Sep 2017), was conceptualised with an aim to bring about a substantial difference in the lives of the coconut farmers, thereby deeply resonating with our purpose– Make a Difference”, said Prabhu.
There are various key initiatives that are propagated as a part of Kalpavriksha such as increased current crop productivity, hybrid plantation, replantation, right water management and usage of technological intervention.
Kalpavriksha has also launched several projects under its umbrella in different domains such as digital channel, farm care personnel, and training.
To propagate the Kalpavriksha Programme, Marico has deployed Farm Care Personnel(FCP), on the ground that can interact with farmers in helping them to understand their programme, enroll farmers and visit their fields for providing on-field support. The training module consisting of scientific farm practices for nutrient & disease management were also used for training farmer groups where farmers could call up and seek support on any farm issues they are facing, from agricultural experts
Interactive Voice Response (IVR) was also set up under the programme where farmers could call up and seek support on any farm issues they are facing, from agricultural experts. This support is available in multiple local languages like Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada. So far over 72,000 farmers have been reached through the IVR toll-free line.
The farmers also enjoy digital library where videos are intended to educate farmers on best farm practices and disease management. As of now, 35 digital library videos were developed and uploaded on YouTube across 5 Languages (Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kanada & English). Marico also telecasted its programme on local TV for educating farmers and propagating it with the help of Agriculture Information Services (AIS).
Marico also worked closely with the Marico Innovation Foundation (MIF) to implement the #Innovate2Cultivate Program to solve current linear agricultural challenges with the help of innovations and bring the relevant ecosystem together to support these innovations. The endeavor is to encourage innovations in the agricultural sector for a single crop addressing challenges across the spectrum like water harvesting and management, pest and disease management, soil quality and nutrition, agri-input management.
Additionally, the company also aspires to have a small Kalpavriksha Research Centre wherein it can invite farmers and demonstrate various aspects that are key to improving productivity. As a first step, it has planted a Demo farm which consists of six different varieties of trees planted across 3 panels being treated with different inputs.
Marico has also taken initiatives such as groundwater sources recharging and farm ponds to conserve water which is critical for the sustenance of crop yield.
Marico is planning to scale Kalpavriksha through various integral interventions and innovation. They aim to scale up this initiative with an objective to double the income of enrolled farmers. In long term basis, it aspires to touch a large percentage of 20 lakh coconut farmers in India. Eventually, Marico plans to turn this initiative into a Foundation.