Sustainable Supply Chains of the Future Are Women-led & Community-driven
Co-authored by CEO, Keith Agoada & Staff Writer, Amy Schmidt
How Small Women Farmers of India Are Leading the Way Towards Sustainable Supply Chains
Have you ever wondered why we continue doing things that aren’t working? Sometimes it seems like we keep doing certain things just because we know them, not because they are the right or the best way to do things. Sometimes our focus becomes so narrow and our vision so myopic.
It’s time for us to go beyond this myopic way of thinking, break free from the limitations of our existing frameworks. When it comes to corporate market supply chains, our existing frameworks are generally driven by outdated models of finance.
How do we break free of this? First we need to get creative, irrational even. Irrational? Why would we want to be irrational? Well, because this is a great starting point for new ideas. With our thinking, we can be as bold and imaginative as possible, and from there we can create new systems that work better for all of us.
Sustainble Supply Chains Involves Millions of Small Famers
There are hundreds of millions of small farmers in the world and billions of rural workers. If that sounds like an exaggeration, consider this: the region in which we focus this article is the state of Andhra Pradesh in India, where there are more than 6 million farmers. All farmers and workers, in India and beyond, deserve fair pay and healthy lives, and our current systems make it hard for them to access these basic dignities. At Producers Trust, we are committed to working at the ground level and stimulating emerging markets alongside the billions of farmers and workers, who together, keep the world fed and clothed.
At Producers Trust, we believe that it is possible to build holistic, scalable models for producers to sustainably bring raw materials, the food and fiber that is consumed around the world, to market. We are prepared to be a leader in the creation of frameworks that bring together communities, technology, and diverse stakeholders.
New models must be collaborative ecosystems, with language and processes that are conducive to life rather than harmful to it, and are superior on every level to existing models of extraction.
Looking to the Women of Andhra Pradesh India for Examples of Sustainable Supply Chains
The future of supply chains is already upon us. There are already models popping up in surprising places. Producers Trust is honored to work closely with one such model, which is based in Andhra Pradesh, India. Andhra Pradesh is the 7th largest state in India and is found in the south-eastern coastal region of the country. Small farmers and communities in this region are leading a movement towards functional supply chains as part of the RySS natural farming program. Women are leading the movement.
The government of Andhra Pradesh, established the Rythu Sadhikara Samstha (RySS) in 2014 as a nonprofit dedicated to enhancing farmer and consumer welfare and conserving the environment. Their goal is to reach all 6 million farmers in the state, and they currently work with over 600,000. RySS is currently the largest organic and regenerative movement in the world.
Many small and marginalized farmers in the region are transitioning into chemical-free regenerative practices and taking on the risks that come along with it without any economic safety net. The risks include dealing with pests and disease, potentially lower yields in the first year, and the challenges of learning new techniques. RySS is providing capacity building on the ground around farmer education. They are supporting agriculture producers and developing their skill sets around the 9 principles of natural farming.
Since there is no guarantee of price premiums on the market, they are making the transition happen with no insurance or backstop if things go wrong. Even with the risks, the women are finding success. That’s because what they do have is a commitment to and from their communities, and this may just be stronger than any outdated model of traditional finance. The women in these programs are organized into self-help groups that support each other emotionally, socially, and financially. Farmers who have been through the 3-5 year transitions are now training and mentoring other farmers.
This kind of commitment and courage is inspiring to us, and we are here to share the inspiration–and to admit that now it is our turn. Whose turn exactly? The technology companies, investors, banks, insurance companies, retailers, and brands. Together we must consider how we can work not only with, but for small producers and their innovative models of production. Collectively, we must transform consumption and production into something sustainable and join a lot of the workers on the ground who are already making an effort to put the health of our planet and our people first.
Taking Care of the People Who Take Care of Us & Our Planet
The future of humanity and our resilience is in the hands of those that manage our soil, water, forests, and ecosystems.Without fertile soil, fresh water and air, and thriving ecosystems, there is no future at all for humanity.
In order to ensure the sustainability of these essential factors, we have to take care of the people who are doing the hard work. These folks are not located in corporate boardrooms in sprawling cities, but humbly living, working, and caring for our planet in small villages around the globe.
The rest of us in the supply chain must work collaboratively to bring their products to market more efficiently so that more money is returned to the source, incentivizing economic, social, and ecological improvement, so that producers and farmers who are truly caring for our earth are being cared for in return.
Interested in learning more about our partnership and on the ground work in India? Stay tuned! Max from our team was recently in India witnessing first hand how the natural farming movement is improving the livelihoods of small and marginalized agricultural producers across India. We are excited to share some of his experiences soon!