The Bazaar Agriculture Cooperative was established in 2010 by the investment fund Development Voyage Pvt Ltd. It has been operational since 2016. Its goal is to create a cooperative network among small farmers in Kaski district and provide Pokhara with organic food. Connecting farmers to a market is the first step into developing agriculture and rural areas.
The cooperative is made up of about twenty collection centers that include more than a thousand small-scale producers engaged in subsistence farming whose surpluses are placed on the market. Each community, defined geographically and culturally, elects an “Agri-Entrepreneur” representative. In charge of 25 households in average, the AE carries their interests, negotiates farming inputs and allow the exchange of information between the Bazaar and the community to promote organic agriculture. As a short term consequence is a better income for farmers, based on organic farming expected to settle, improve and spread in the long term.
Finally they organize every Saturday a farmers market in Pokhara for individuals where farmers come to sell their surplus directly (Farmer’s Market). The Bazaar provides the necessary equipment for sale and location.
Challenges and solutions
The main challenge remains supply management. The absence of data makes very difficult to predict the production or evolution of the market, meanwhile low storage infrastructure cannot adjust products availability. The acquisition of information on production and demand is therefore the nerve of the Bazaar’s thinking about its structuring into a cooperative. Initially, the cooperative operated from the supply side, but significant losses were caused by insufficient demand. These wastes were difficult to recover downstream of production. Today The Bazaar focuses its activity on the demand in order to defer the loss upstream where it is easier to value the waste. Indeed it will require less transport and therefore costs.
To meet this challenge, they are developing a network between collection centers and mobile applications for producers and buyers (Blooom application, mobile application being dev). This will increase the speed of information so that farmers can know the state of the market in real time.
Thus The Bazaar functions as the manager of demand and supply of resources between producers, buyers and suppliers of equipment (Supply Chain Managment). They are also the ones setting up the Kaski District Agricultural Production Network.
The second challenge is to cut the resort to hybrid seeds, and therefore the use of phytosanitary product. In the short term, these seeds are more profitable for farmers (better yield due to heterosis – see article). However they cannot keep the seeds one year to the other (hybrid depression) which make them dependent on the seed merchants. Traditional / local varieties are less productive, but the management of the stock from one year to the next can be done by the farmers themselves. The cooperative promotes this model by bringing traditional seeds to farmers. For the cooperative, these seeds are not less profitable than hybrids. The Bazaar also promote organic solutions for pests and weeds, and fosters information flows between the communities.
There is no national / public certification (nor standard) for AB in Nepal. Another action was to set up a Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) but it did not work because of lack of resources and the structural difficulties that they are already trying to solve.
Copyright CirculAgronomie 2020