The understanding of our growers led to our beginning many new initiatives. We intensified our one-to-one contact with farmers, increased our ‘on the farm’ group meetings where we implemented the ‘seeing is believing’ concept. We identified and approached key influencers and leader growers, convinced them to use and propagate Syngenta crop solutions. The most exciting of our initiatives was, however, the birth of “Syngenta Krishi Shakti” –Syngenta involved in enriching the power of Agriculture. Syngenta Krishi Shakti (SKS) are information and service centers for growers. They are permanently located right in their midst, always available to growers for advice. Since the Western part of Maharashtra state is replete with vegetable and fruit crops, has a community that is beginning to treat farming as a business, we decided to set up these centres in Western Maharashtra. In 2005 & 2006, we set up 3 centres in key F & V belts. We thus built a permanent place in the lives of our growers, weaving ourselves into their day to day activities and becoming their “family doctor” for crops.
We have been continuously enrolling progressive growers as members in our SKS centres and till date, have more than 1500 members. The services we offer to them are a) advice on cultivation and crop protection, (b) diagnostic van service to leader and progressive growers for ‘on-field’ advice, (c) soil testing, (d) library & internet facility with computer training programs, (e) education seminars & crop clinics, and (f) a crop cafeteria (demo plot with a multitude of current crops) to exhibit good crop protection practices, (g) liaison between food chain companies and grower members and (5) interaction with university scientists and experts. We regularly undertake training on safe handling of pesticides. Additionally, we initiate many social events such as drawing competitions, school support programs, women’s education programs etc. Most of the members are following the guidelines given by the experts at Syngenta Krishi Shakti and have experienced a noteworthy change in the cost benefit ratio with elevated quality of produce. The crop cafeteria has till date witnessed record yields of almost all grown crops with a Grade-I quality.
We have developed a specialized software for the centre. This software has an extensive database of all farmers who visit the centre and take advice. It captures the cultivation practices of member growers from seed to harvest, the yield and price achieved by the growers. This information is collected solely for the use of the member growers, who can analyse what they have done for their crop during the season and what has helped them achieve the desired yield and quality. This way, they can keep a record of their activity in the field year on year. This activity is in keeping with Syngenta’s ‘family doctor’ concept, keeping the ‘medical and treatment’ record of members’ crops, guiding them and helping them throughout the year.
Thus Syngenta has taken a valiant step further for the upliftment of Indian Agriculture by educating the growers to overcome all the uncertainties in their day to day farming. The benefit of this initiative for Syngenta is clearly visible. We have become a big brand in each of the markets where our centre exists and we have 100% recognition as a responsible corporate citizen and a well wisher of the grower community. The trade is happy with our strong support to them and our overall market share has zoomed from an earlier 18% to beyond 24% in less than 2 years.
The road ahead is long, there are many more initiatives waiting to happen and many more Syngenta Krishi Shakti centers to be opened across India..