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IFFCO leading farmers on the path of empowerment: Navin Choudhary, chief marketing officer, IKSLqrcode

Apr. 15, 2019

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Apr. 15, 2019

IFFCO leading farmers on the path of empowerment: Navin Choudhary, chief marketing officer, IKSL

Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO) is one of India’s biggest cooperative society which is wholly owned by the Indian Cooperatives. Founded in 1967 with just 57 cooperatives, the organization is an amalgamation of over 36,000 Indian Cooperatives with diversified business interests ranging from General Insurance to Rural Telecom along with the core business of fertilizers.

IFFCO has touched new dimensions of success with changing times and is known for providing better and upgraded services to the farmers. Recently, Mr. Navin Choudhary, Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of IFFCO Kisan Sanchar Ltd (IKSL) gave Interview to media. 

Mr. Navin Choudhary has 19 years experience in the financial sector. He has been a part of senior management at various organizations like Shyam Telecom, IFFCO Tokyo General Insurance, Kotak Life Insurance, and ICICI Bank. He has been associated with IFFCO Kisan Sanchar Ltd for the last four years. During his tenure, he has worked on progressive initiatives including IFFCO Farmer Mobile App, Farmer Loan Service, Kisan Bima Yojana, Corporate Promotion, IFFCO Farming Branding, and Farmer Helpline.

Q1. What according to you is the prime objective of IFFCO?

Ans. Indian Farmers Fertilizer Corporation Limited (IFFCO) is the world's largest co-operative society in the fertilizer sector. It was started in the year 1967, with 57 co-operative institutions. Today, it is working with nearly 40,000 cooperative societies. In the leadership and guidance of Dr. Uday Shankar Awasthi, whose name has become synonymous with co-operative, the institution has touched many heights and established many records of success. Apart from India, IFFCO has started its branches and new plants in many other countries of the world. Seeing the technology revolution in the country, the organization has launched 'IFFCO Kisan' in 2007. The objective of this organization is to provide proper information breaking the barriers of time and place with technology.

Q2. Can you elaborate on the inspiration behind IFFCO Kisan and its reach?

Ans. IFFCO is an established name with over 5.5 crore farmers directly connected to the organization. It has been working at Block and Panchayat level, ensuring its access to farmers.

But the institution sighted a need for one platform wherein farmers could get the information of all agricultural activities related to crops, animal husbandry, government schemes and horticulture and reap the benefits. With this idea, IFFCO Kisan  came into  existence. I am extremely happy to tell that IFFCO farmer has made progress year after year and today 25000 plus distributors and retailers are working together in this initiative. Local offices have been set up in 18 states of the country. IFFCO Kisan, publishes agricultural information, according to the 104 Climate Zone (Weather Sector) of the country. 

Green SIM is a packaged service exclusively available on Airtel Network, which provides voice based farming information to help rural farmers to improve their farming practices. Through Green SIM cards, three free voice messages of about one minute each are sent to subscribers every day. Through this, relevant alerts and advice are circulated on various topics such as soil management, weather based agro-consultants, crop management, plant protection, market rate, dairy and animal husbandry. In addition, information about health, employment, education, women's empowerment, financial inclusion, awareness of climate change and general utilization of government schemes is also provided. These voice messages are made by the experts on the topics of immediate interest to rural subscribers. With the latest information, rural customers especially the farmers, have an endeavor to empower them. 

Customers of IFFCO Kisan Green SIM card have the privilege of accessing a dedicated helpline service, through 6 digit number 534351. Here the farmers can find solutions to their problems. On this helpline, B.Sc Graduate Agricultural Expert gives advice. 

So far, 42 lakh green SIM consumers are being provided this service in different languages. More than 500 Marketing Associates and Territory Managers of IFFCO Kisan are involved in ground activity for this project.

Q3. Does Digital India, rising use of technology help the agricultural sector in any way?

Ans. Today the effect of technology is being seen around the world. Technology eases working along with the cut in time and cost. The agriculture sector is also not insulated from the technology. Internet and smartphones have reached the rural population. Keeping this in mind, IFFCO farmer started the "IFFCO Farmer Agriculture Application" for the farmers in 2015. So far, more than six lakh farmers have joined this app directly. There is no charge for using this app and this app can be easily downloaded by visiting Google Play Store. 

Q4. That’s an appreciable initiative. Will you share the working of IFFCO Farmer Agriculture Application?

Ans. While starting the IFFCO Kisan, it was taken care of how it continued to be progressive. In keeping with this fact, the 'IFFCO Farmer Mobile App' was launched in the light of new and progressive farmers interested in the knowledge of new technology and unique methods. Any information related to agriculture can be obtained through this app. You can read about it or the information can also be heard. Apart from this, if farmers want information on any subject related to agriculture then they can ask their questions through the app. Their questions are answered by the agricultural experts free of cost and an attempt is made to give them every possible solution. Through this app, farmers can know the weather conditions and five days forecast for their area. 

You can get information about the price of three hundred products in more than two thousand markets, as well as uploading your product photo, mobile number and price information which the customer can get. Information can also be obtained by taking photographs and voice records of advice from experts. In future, as more smartphone are accessible to farmers, the utility of this app will also grow. Keeping this situation in mind, we keep taking feedback about this app from farmers and other organizations so that it can be made easier and useful. 

Q5. Farmers face difficulties in getting loans. What work has IFFCO done in this regard? 

Ans. When we used to visit villages, it was seen that farmers have to wander a lot in order to take a loan. Keeping this in mind, two years ago, IFFCO farmer started a pilot project with a TVS credit. Under the project, three states  Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh started the work for arranging loan service for the farmers. In fact, before joining the IFFCO Kisan, I had 18 years of experience in the banking and insurance sector. This experience has been very useful in the pilot project. We worked on the process of getting loan immediately on old and new tractors, said Navin Choudhary, CMO IKSL. 

He further added, “This pilot project was very successful in many ways and we made a book value of around 25 crores. In addition to its success, IFFCO Kisan started its own subsidiary company, 'Kisan Rural Finance Limited' in collaboration with Dr. Uday Shankar Awasthi and IFFCO Kisan, MD Mr. Rakesh Kapoor. Six months have passed since the beginning of 'Farmer Rural Finance Limited', but considering its positive feedback, we have started working towards expanding it. It is led by Mr. Ranjan Sharma, Director of IFFCO Kisan. We hope that these companies will be able to provide better facilities to the farmers.

Q6. What is the contribution of IFFCO in  empowering farmers financially? 

Ans. Keeping in view the economic needs of farmers, we have made an agreement with HDFC Life. Apart from this, we have also made an agreement with Krishi Jagran Magazine. Through this magazine,  new technologies and products can reach to farmers. Apart from this, we are also working with Farmers Producers' Association to get the farmers the right price for their crop. Also, cooperation is being taken from organizations in the commodity sector so that farmers' crops can reach the market directly. 

Q7. What is your opinion on the current situation of farmers in the country? 

Ans. At present, the situation of farmers of the country is not good. Farmers are not fully informed about government schemes being run for them. They suffer a lot due to this. They are not aware of the new techniques used in the agricultural sector. Also they do not know about the fair price and the market. The Central Government is going ahead with the goal of doubling the income of the farmers. In this effort of the government, IFFCO Kisan are also participating and are trying to save the farmers from bad times and also in giving farmers the necessary information to the farmers so that they can improve their lifestyle and make them aware of their rights. 

Q8. To what extent Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of doubling  farmers’ income will be successful? 

Ans. PM Modi's thought of doubling the income of farmers is commendable.   India can walk on the path of progress by strengthening the country's farmers at the economic and social level. If government organizations such as IFFCO, volunteer organizations and policy makers together try in this direction then it is possible that the income of the farmers will increase and there will be positive changes in their lives. 

If the farmers are given information about the fair prices of crops and also the use of new and affordable technologies in agriculture, then this goal can be achieved and the progress of the farmers will definitely accelerate the country's economy. IFFCO Kisan is committed to  participate in this initiative.

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