India RegionFarming and Agriculture

From Mayurbhanj to the World: The Inspiring Story of Tribal Lemongrass Farmers of Odisha

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13 October 2023, Odisha: Mayurbhanj District in Odisha, India is densely populated with tribal communities, including several “Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups,” a designation assigned by the Indian Government. Traditionally, these communities have relied on forest resources such as cereal crop farming, but it’s not enough to provide a sustainable livelihood. Without access to resources and technical knowledge, it’s been nearly impossible for these groups to improve their farming practices, and in turn, make a living.

Palladium, designated a Cluster-based Business Organization (CBBO) by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development, is supporting over 10 FPOs in Odisha to create a comprehensive and sustainable ecosystem to promote income-oriented farming and overall socio-economic development. These FPOs are made up of groups of farmers, providing support and services to members that range from technical crop cultivation to marketing help, with the goal of making individual farmers more competitive and increasing market opportunities.

One of these FPOs is the tribal Sosonum Agro Farmer Producer Company, with 517 tribal farmers including 59 women farmers. Based in Mayurbhanj, the group needed support to diversify into aromatic crops but was struggling to establish market connections for the niche crop, lemongrass. Palladium facilitated the Sosonum Agro leaders and farmers with necessary technical and capacity-building support. This collaborative effort led to the successful adoption of lemongrass cultivation, oil extraction, and the bottling and packaging of lemongrass oil.

Moreover, Palladium facilitated the linkage of Sosonum Agro to international markets in the U.S. and France, resulting in the export of lemongrass products. This not only boosted the confidence of the FPO members but also improved the socio-economic status of tribal farmers. The land that was once unproductive wetlands transformed into productive fields through the cultivation of aromatic crops.

Despite the challenges inherent in transitioning from traditional cereal cultivation to commercial farming, Sosonum Agro’s initiative proved highly successful, providing a sustainable source of income and uplifting the Suliapada Block community in Mayurbhanj District. Within just two years of its formation and registration, the FPO achieved an annual turnover of 1 crore which led to a 40% increase in the member farmers’ income.

Speaking about this achievement, Mr. Amit Patjoshi, CEO of Palladium India, expressed, “Sosonum Agro FPO has the distinction of being the first Farmer Producer Organization in the state to specialize in cultivating aromatic crops, with their products now reaching international markets. Our goal is to assist the FPO in achieving an annual turnover of 5 crore within the next three years. Their success stands as a testament to the latent potential within tribal communities. Palladium as CBBO aims to ensure the long-term sustainability of these FPOs by increasing income and capacity of small and marginal producers.”

Also Read: Bayer in the Field campaign highlights how Bayer’s team is making an impact for growers on-the-ground

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