Hurda sale “from farmers straight to the consumer”
Farmers are becoming experts in marketing
Hurda (roasted sorghum grains with certain other tasty ingredients) made from Surati sorghum grains (a conventional local variety) in the villages of Narsapur and Sarangpur, both about 30 km from Aurangabad, is very famous not only in Marathwada but throughout Maharashtra. Surati sorghum has been sowed in about 205 acres of farm land in Narsapur through the participation of 121, while in Sarangpur, the figures are 137 farmers and 187 acres.
Jobs for the whole family in the Hurda business
Most of the families in Narsapur are engaged in the Hurda business. The families of Raibhan Shinde and Nivrutti Dada Shinde are a combined joint family. Raibhan and his wife Asarabai, Nivrutti and his wife Vimal, Ramhari and his wife Swamini, and their mother Bababai, all share important responsibilities in the production of Hurda.
Kiran Shinde efficiently handles marketing of the Hurda.
Explaining his daily work routine, Raibhan says that every day, at six in the morning, the harvesting of sorghum ears from the standing crop of sorghum begins, and is completed by 7 am. Grains of sorghum are separated from these ears via a rubbing process till 10 am. From 10 am to 11 am, the grain is winnowed, and then packed. After 11 am, the packed Hurda is sent to markets all over the state.
Kiran explains that out of his total 55 acres of farm land, Hurda sorghum is sowed on 15 acres. The grain was sowed on the festival of Gokul Ashtami in August. Not much water is needed for this crop, which takes about 90 days to get ready for harvesting. Fertilizers are used and insecticides are sprayed if necessary. By the first week of November, Hurda fit for sale, is ready and this period lasts till the first week of February. The per acre expenditure from sowing to sending the Hurda to markets is about ten-fifteen thousand rupees. Since a facility for roasting Hurda is also available in the village, city consumers sometimes travel directly to the villages.
“The Atma system of the Agriculture department is succeeding in its initiative of doing away with the age-old undesirable practice of farmers producing Hurda while the rates are determined by middlemen. Direct sales from farmer to consumer are now receiving government support, through providing sales management skills to the Hurda producers. A variety of Hurda called Surati is gaining fast popularity. Farmers now package their own Hurda and sell it. Thus, consumers too are now receiving quality Hurda.” – Ganesh Phunde
Crowds of Hurda consumers in the Gulmandi market
One can hear calls in peculiar village accents for people to buy Hurda at the ‘Gulmandi Spot’ in Aurangabad from ten in the morning to ten in the evening. Recently, the team of Agriculture Co-director Janardan Jadhav, the Marathwada Deputy Director of ‘Atma’ Santosh Alse, Superintendent Agriculture Officer Ramesh Gosavi, Taluka Agriculture Ifficer Vaijinath Hange and Taluka Technology Manager Dilip Mote conducted a survey to bring in more reforms in the marketing system for Hurda. They studied the problems faced by Hurda producers during marketing and the consumers’ expectations.
The economics of Hurda
“On an average, an acre of farm land produces up to eight quintals of Hurda. The calculation of the rate depends, to a significant extent, on the marketing skills of the farmers. Attractive packaging by the farmers, which includes the names of the villages, has led to a growing assurance for consumers. Naturally, this results in better rates. In the direct sale from farmer to consumer in Gulmandi market, Hurda is sold at an average rate of Rs. 150 per kg. At this rate, the farmers report a net profit of about one lakh twenty thousand rupees. About 392 acres of farm land in Narsapur and Sarangpur is used for growing sorghum crop for Hurda. Thus, at Rs. 150 per kg, the turnover from this business comes to about five crore rupees.”-Kiran Shinde
Formation of farmer groups for marketing
The new marketing technique for Hurda has proved to be highly beneficial for the farmers from Narsapur and Sarangpur, who did the Hurda business in the conventional way. Six farmer groups have been formed under the system of “Atma” of the department of agriculture, and encouragement is being provided for the direct sale of Hurda from farmers to consumers. Ninety farmers have participated in this scheme. Steps are being taken to increase participation by the other farmers from the villages. The farmers are gaining expertise in marketing Hurda produced by them. The Atma system currently supplies three thousand plastic bags to the farmers every day for packing of Hurda, and in the first phase, distribution of 65 thousand bags is underway.
Women’s participation is important
Women’s participation has proved to be important in quickening the pace of the Hurda business. They participate in everything, from cutting the sorghum ears to the preparation of Hurda. In fact, they are at the forefront in the skilful job of separating the grains from the sorghum ears. Bhagirathi Kadubal Parde of Sarangpur says, Sorghum for Hurda has been sown in five acres, and sale of Hurda from an acre-and-a-half of farm has begun. Four lakh rupees will be received from these five acres, out of which, the net profit will be three-and-a-half lakh rupees after deducting fifty thousand for expenses. She now knows the economics of Hurda by heart. Many such women can be seen the village.
“The main intention of the Atma system is to provide all required information to the farmers about marketing skills. Our goal is to widen the network of ‘farmers to consumers’ sales, taking into account the changing market system. The focus in the future will be to develop a new brand of Hurda as needed.”-Santosh Alse Deputy director (Marathwada), Atma, Aurangabad