Shashank Kumar

Ashoka Fellow
India,
Fellow Since 2013

Citation

This profile was prepared when Shashank Kumar was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2013.
The New Idea
The most prevalent interventions in the agricultural value chain system are either at the post-harvest stage or are specific to only one or a few aspects of the agricultural value chain (such as soil testing, input supply services, advisory services, processing/value-addition services or aggregation, and marketing services). While such initiatives continue to positively impact farmers, Shashank believes it is essential to intervene at the initial crop planning stage and to understand the farmers’ profile and risk vulnerability to truly maximize their financial outcomes.

By studying several factors including market demands, pricing patterns, local farming conditions, nature and size of farmers’ landholdings, soil quality, and cash flow needs, Shashank plans the farmer’s cropping season. This demand-driven crop planning bridges the gap between what the markets want to buy and what farmers can supply. The crop selection process also ensures that crops with shorter cash flow cycles are chosen. In addition, local centers run by rural entrepreneurs assist the farmer throughout the cropping season by providing cost-effective input supplies, advisory information on government schemes, and allied businesses (i.e. poultry and quail farming), post-harvest value-addition and processing, access to cold chains and warehouses, market linkages, and logistics management. Shashank has thus developed a low-cost system where small and marginal scale farmers’ work with a single point of contact during the cycle.

Through such holistic interventions that begin with market-driven crop planning and end with farmers seeing an increase in their profits, ranging from 25 percent to 55 percent, and much shorter and assured cash inflow cycles. By structuring his revenue stream as a small cut from the sale of farmers’ produce, Shashank has also aligned his organization’s interests with those of the farmers. FnF now aims to reach out to more farmers while also adding more services in the processing, storage, and value-addition aspects of the value chain. With a vision to take their services to several North Indian states, FnF aims to reach at least 100,000 farmers by the end of 2015 through 100 local centers.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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