Dr. U. Jaikumaran

Ashoka Fellow
Thrissur, Kerala, India
Fellow Since 2011


This profile was prepared when Dr. U. Jaikumaran was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2011.
The New Idea
Seeing a historically undermined class of laborers as guardians of food security within the country, Jaikumaran created the Food Security Army (FSA), to unify agriculture laborers, upgrade their skills, and increase their efficiency, while also promoting mechanization and bringing dignity into their profession.

Jaikumaran believes that professional agriculture services should be available to every farmer. The FSA, as the name implies, is an organized and easy-to-mobilize professional agriculture labor force. FSA units are cooperatives of agriculture workers that are rigorously trained in mechanized agriculture processes, such as operating, maintaining, and servicing machinery. By organizing laborers as agriculture service providers, Jaikumaran is able to address many of their social and economic challenges by introducing their transactions with farmers into the formal economy, and allowing for the regulation of price, which protects both farmers and laborers and eliminates gender discrimination (women laborers are normally paid up to 50 percent less for the same work).

At the Panchayat level, each FSA unit maintains basic machinery and provides services to farmers as-and-when needed. The FSA personnel at the block level (4 to 8 panchayats) and the district level (4 to 10 blocks) maintain more sophisticated machinery and provide repair services. There is also a training facility for agriculture workers to upgrade their skills in a particular specialization. Furthermore, at the district level, the research and development center works to innovate and improve agriculture machinery design and identify progressive technologies. FSA’s organized structure and training facilities allow for rapid dissemination of innovation across rural areas, which is the key to its success.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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