MP Farmer Suicides, could they Have Been Avoided? India Based Farm-to-consumer Company, Green Tree Foods, says the Situation Could have Been Different

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Farmers in the state of Madhya Pradesh in India are a worried lot treading a thin line trying to keep their sanity amidst widespread crop failure and mounting debts. Some have lost hope and are committing suicides. Green Tree Foods Private Limited, a farm to consumer company, based out of Vidisha in the state of Madhya Pradesh, says with proper guidance offered to farmers the situation could have been different.

Frosted Pigeon Pea (Tur) Crop

Lack of guidance with regards to weather, adaptation of inputs based on changing weather and disease patterns and reluctance to adopt modern agricultural practices have catapulted farmers into despair for a profession providing food to the whole world.

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Company representatives at Green Tree Foods Private Limited, a farm-to-consumer company based out of Vidisha in Madhya Pradesh, India say that the widespread crop failure and subsequent distress suicides by farmers could have been avoided. The harvest of the Pigeon Pea (Tur) crop in the state of Madhya Pradesh in India has been adversely affected by severe cold and frost. Entire Tur farms have been wiped out and farmers especially in the district of Vidisha in central Madhya Pradesh have suffered maximum losses. Thousands of farmers across Madhya Pradesh that have lost their crop are breaking down under the pressure of debts they had taken with hope that the lucrative Tur crop will be their way out of the mountain of debt driving them into the ground. Nature can be harsh at times, with the widespread failure of the Tur crop some of these farmers are losing hope and committing suicides. The Madhya Pradesh state government has allocated a Rs. 600 Cr relief for farmers affected by this crop failure. Could the crop failure have been avoided? Is relief a real solution to problems faced by the farmer? Amidst these crop failures and depressing sentiment across the state is a company and a network of farmers that have defied aberrant weather and plant disease. Green Tree Foods, a private limited company and its network of farmers have successfully managed to reap a rich harvest of the Pigeon Pea (Tur) crop in stark contrast to a lot of farmers that planted the Tur crop across the state.

Green Tree Foods (GTF), a private limited, farm-to-consumer company, based out of Vidisha in the state of Madhya Pradesh in India, manages 1600 acres of farmlands end-to-end, from sowing to harvesting to the eventual sale of the harvested commodity in the marketplace. The company relies on scientific data for deeper insight into crop yields, location, irrigation, growing patterns and crop type to predict which combinations of elements will bring the best crop yield at the lowest cost. The company works with local farmers, employs advanced mechanization and is importing precision agriculture technology to increase yields of farmlands it manages. GTF's mission is to create an efficient and profitable food ecosystem that delivers top quality food to the consumer at the most affordable price. Company representatives say the crop failure and the subsequent distress suicides by farmers could have been avoided provided the farmers were guided by scientific expertise and equipped with the right tools to adapt to changing weather patterns.

The company had learnt about the Tur crop getting affected during periods of extreme cold from experienced local farmers that had seen this rare phenomenon in the past. Although this was an infrequent phenomenon and a concern that the average farmer ignored due to its one-off nature, GTF foresaw that with rapidly changing weather patterns, crop failures due to extreme weather conditions and resulting high food prices could become one of the harsh truths that farmers and consumers alike might have to deal with in the near future. This prompted GTF to attempt developing its own early developing disease resistant variety of the Tur seed. In its last 3 years of operations, Green Tree Foods, experimented with various early and late developing varieties of Tur in its seed development farm in Vidisha. GTF’s persistent research efforts led to the development of an early maturing (100 to 125 days) variety of seed that was disease resistant and averse to widespread pest attacks.

For its 2010 farm cycle GTF planted its own early developing seed variety which could be harvested in 100 to 125 days from cultivation. Along with cultivating this seed variety GTF applied a series of innovative agricultural practices such as inter-cropping the Tur crop with the Soybean crop, a 14-inch crop spacing and infusion of deficient micronutrients such as Boron and Sulphur. This resulted in higher than average yields for its Tur crop and an early harvest, much before the extreme frost could get into action and destroy its Tur crop.

Timely cultivation, infusion of inputs required and adapting its inputs and agricultural practices to changing weather patterns were the main drivers behind GTF's success. GTF has started disseminating the lessons it has learnt to farmers in the surrounding regions and will be providing the early developing disease and pest resilient seed variety it has developed to farmers and the seed distribution units of the state of Madhya Pradesh at affordable rates.

"Lack of guidance with regards to weather, adaptation of inputs based on changing weather and disease patterns and reluctance to adopt modern agricultural practices have catapulted farmers into despair for a profession that has been providing food to the whole world since time immemorial", says Anshul Gurha, CEO, Green Tree Foods. GTF officials say providing relief in the form of fertilizer subsidies or cash disbursement is just a short term bandage solution for farmer woes. The company thinks that initiatives to guide the farmer to adapt to newer agricultural practices, to equip them with knowledge and tools to adapt to the changing weather, to partner with them, needs to be put in place to create an efficient food ecosystem that delivers quality food at affordable prices to the consumer and at the same time propels the producer of the food - the farmer to prosperity and motivates him to continue in his profession.

Green Tree Foods Private Limited, is rapidly growing as a farm to consumer company in the state of Madhya Pradesh, and employs innovation in the field of agriculture to solve problems plaguing the food supply chain for both the farmer and consumer alike.

For more information about Green Tree Foods, please visit http://www.greentreefoodsindia.com or contact Joji Philip

Contact
Joji Philip
Executive Vice President
Green Tree Foods Private Limited
Email: media(at)greentreefoodsindia(dot)com
Web: http://www.greentreefoodsindia.com

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