At a time of increasing #farmer suicides, the people of Timbaktu (yep, it is a place – specifically, an organization in Anatpur I’ve admired for a while now) people have successfully empowered scores of marginal farmers and are bringing equitable and sustainable prosperity to a region of the country where farming was being written off as impossible, and in addition have restored greenery to a vast denuded area.
The Cooperative has come of age. There are now around 1,800 shareholding members who have put in Rs. 1,000 each as their share along with atleast another 500 of them who have put in deposits of Rs. 2,000 each. Dharani has reached a level where both farmer members and customers have doubled in the last four years while sales have also quadrupled. Last year (2014/15) it generated revenues of around Rs. 1.77 crores and a net profit of around Rs. 24 lakhs. It also paid out around Rs. 12 lakhs as patronage bonus to its members and incentives to the labour.
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Till last year procurement was from just 364 farmers due to failure of monsoons, crop failure, organic certification, etc. Dharani managed to raise the required working capital from its own funds, from small loans from friends and loans from the other cooperatives promoted by the Collective. However, this year (2015/16), as per the crop plans prepared with every village sangha, if all goes well, around 6,000 acres will be cultivated with 18 crops. The business plan based on the present processing capabilities of Dharani, proposes to procure 1,148 tons of produce worth Rs. 3.51 crore from 6,000 acres as per the crop plan.
For 2015/16, Dharani will need to raise Rs. 4.50 crores as working capital by August / September later this year. Dharani is trying to raise this money as small loans from individuals and / or social investors. As per the business plan, Dharani will be able to pay back within 18 months and is willing to pay an annual interest of 6% to 8%. Dharani is not looking for gifts and grants. Though I am sure it will not refuse such offers as well.
The good news is that of the Rs. 4.50 crores required, Dharani has raised Rs. 3.15 crores on its own steam including a loan of Rs. 50 lakhs from Rang De and Rs. 65 lakhs from the staff of TC.
Now they are banking on the well wishers of #India‘s farmers. They are hoping that you will invest and / or get your friends and families to invest. We need to raise a total of Rs. 1.35 crores. This is not a small amount, but it is doable if we all chip in. Even as people hold debates about pros and cons of “handouts” and ineffective policies wrecking farmers, here are a proud people doing real change AND will give you return on investment as well. The way I see it, it should be a privilege to participate in the opportunity to be more than armchair opinionators on the fate of farmers, yes? So invest here while the need still exists, and give yourself and your claims of loving farmers some credibility, yes?
Here is the official letter from the Collective, a note to the investor from Dharani, the loan agreement and the summary business plan. Dharani is willing to pay an interest of 6% to 8%, it will be happy if you ask for less. If you are willing to give Dharani a loan please do fill up the loan agreement attached, sign it, PDF it and send it to Timbaktu for record.
Come on friends. This blog has always cared for the farmers and hoped for meaningful change for them. Now we can make it happen and be a part of the story instead of watching from the sidelines. Let us do this. Invest, spread the word.