Farmers' public limited
This summer if you use a prickly heat powder manufactured by Emami think of Agricon Agropreneurs Limited. The Raipur-based public limited company supplies mentha, a common ingredient in many beauty products, to the cosmetic major. Set up two years ago, Agricon has given farmers much-needed clout in their dealings with cosmetic companies.
The company counts 1,600 farmers' families in three Chhattisgarh districts, Mahasamund, Raipur and Durg, as its shareholders. Agricon has set up distillation units in the four districts, where mentha oil is extracted and sold to cosmetic companies.
A farmer has to pay a minimum of Rs 300 to become a shareholder. Agricon provides initial inputs like seeds, experts on it rolls guide the farmers, and the company has roped in Emami to sponsor two distillation units in Mahasamund. Two other units operated by Agricon at Raipur and Durg were partially funded by the National Horticultural Mission.
The distillation unit at Khamaria village in Mahasamund district is located on farmer Arun Chandrakar's 5.6 hectare (ha) tract. Chandrakar and a few other farmers were trained by Agricon experts to run this biomass-fuelled unit.
Meticulous account is kept of the oil extracted from each farmer's produce and the producer is paid accordingly. A farmer gets Rs 125 for a kg of the herb, which yield about a litre and a quarter of oil. The oil is then taken to Agricon's collection centre in Raipur and sold to cosmetic majors. "We tie up with companies to ensure that farmers get good returns," says Rajneesh Awasthi, an Agricon director.
Seventy five per cent of the profit is divided amongst farmers, while Agricon retains 25 per cent to distribute as bonus at the end of the year.
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