While we enjoy our scrumptious meals, we often forget to thank the true heroes who have spent day and night to make this a possibility. I am talking about the underpaid and underappreciated farmers, who work behind the scenes with all their might and main and literally form the backbone of the entire food industry. Yet, they still never manage to break the shackles of poverty due to a system of exploitation.
But two enterprising brothers from India are here to change the scene. Subedar Major Balkar Singh Sandhu, a retired army man, has been farming on his 40 acres of ancestral land for years now. But once he returned to his village, he noticed how small farmers were being exploited by middlemen, rendering them incapable of repaying their loans even over three generations and some resorting to committing suicide.
Sandhu, along with his son Pawiter Pal Sing, a qualified software engineer, and his nephew Harjap Singh, decided to take matters into their own hands. They traveled across India for the next 1.5 years in a bid to understand the dilemma of farmers and came to the conclusion that farmers are being played because they cannot directly contact the consumers, thus have no control over the price. Also, they have to deal with middlemen since they don’t have an adequate storage space.
So after negotiating with the village elders, Panchayat, and creating a network of over 30,000 farmers, they launched Farmer Friend, a website that directly connects farmers with their customers. Harjap and Pawiter also created two Kisan Sewa Kendra in the localities of Haryana and Punjab, which serves as an assistance center for farmers looking to sign up or seek solutions.
The founders now connect the farmers with restaurant and hotel owners that love to get their products fresh and right off the farm. This has created a network of over 350 restaurants and hotels, constituting of over 2500 individuals who buy their grains, poultry, milk products and vegetables directly from the farmers.
So in this win-win situation, farmers get their fair share of the profit and a sense of ownership, while the customers get their quality products on their doorstep.
According to Pawiter, government’s incentives to waive off loans and providing facilities like free soil testing facility is simply not enough to solve the problems of farmers.
“They are ready to work hard and repay their loans, all they need is a fair price for their produce. Why is a farmer getting poor day by day while the products produced by him are getting costlier in the market? Why is it so difficult to understand that it’s high time that we need to eradicate the middle men who are responsible for this unfair difference?”
Farmer Friend now works in 20+ cities across India, and to avail this facility you simply need to log on to the website and find a farmer near your location. Using their name and contact information, you can contact the farmers for your requirements. Easy peasy, fresh, fresh from the farm lemon squeezy!
Check out Farmer Friend here or write to Balkar, Paviter, and Harjap at firstname.lastname@example.org