The FPO Journey
Knowledge for action
In the early 1990s, IRMA led a series of research studies that contributed to new knowledge on managing cooperatives that enabled better design of many dairy cooperatives over the years. The twenty-first century’s demand for newer, actionable, and India-specific knowledge on challenges faced by the newer generation cooperatives, or Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) remains unfulfilled. Designing agricultural producer collectives that could operate as enterprises in increasingly globally integrated value chains amidst increased farm distress requires both understanding, and navigating, these complex organisations for establishing member-centricity, even as they are economically, and environmentally, sustainable. We believe that sustained participatory and collaborative research can create conducive institutional mechanisms that can motivate and build capacities of members for newer farming futures. The knowledge, capacities, and ecosystems for diverse and vibrant collective enterprises as start-ups in India is missing and we hope to fill this gap through working in the following areas.
Translating ambitious policies of doubling farm income through collective enterprises requires much-needed strengthening of capacities of both the promoting institutions as well as developing a cadre of trainers who can build the next generation of FPO facilitators and leaders. We collaborated with its ecosystem partners Skill Green, APMAS and NAFPO to launch a new FPO manual in March 2019 that focuses on empowering trainers and BoDs of FPOs. The manual has been followed up by regional trainings at Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Eluru and many other places.
Co-creating knowledge on FPOs:
Knowledge on these nascent yet complex organisations, we believe, needs to be co-created through stakeholder dialogues. IRMA has hosted several national workshops in 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 to glean insights and directions for further research. This has led to putting together a comprehensive annotated bibliography on FPOs for both practitioners and researchers as well as an ongoing process of documenting rich and grounded case studies and state of sector reviews on the decade of the FPO movement and ecosystem.
Participating in Policy Dialogues
Designing appropriate institutional mechanisms to translate ambitious policies for Doubling Farm Income and setting up 10000 FPOs requires sustained engagement with policymakers and implementing agencies. IRMA, in collaboration with NAFPO and other stakeholders, has been part of round tables, expert committees and policy dialogues to research and connect policies with evidence and insights from practitioners and civil society organisations.