Improving rural incomes and nutrition

First of all, I’d like to apologize for the very long and unusual break in posts on this blog. During the last few months I have been writing about my experiences and learnings in the agriculture sector, which I will share on this blog over the next few posts.

Earlier this year, I visited a nascent initiative by the Covenant Centre for Development (CCD), Madurai, to create a rural-to-rural vegetable supply chain.  Typically, most agriculture initiatives focus on building rural-to-urban supply chains. Their objective is to increase incomes of farmers and they believe that focusing on urban (or export) markets is the best way to do so.   Often, creating strong market linkages for agricultural produce reduces their availability in rural areas since the financial need to sell a commodity for cash is very high.

However, rural India also needs some of these high-value agricultural produce to be available locally, especially the more nutritious commodities such as vegetables, millets, milk and meats.  In villages, rural consumers have limited availability of vegetables and, whatever is available is often not fresh and of poor quality.  If we are to make a dent in the high incidence of malnutrition in India (about half the children in rural India are malnourished), it is essential for us create rural-to-rural supply chains which, while increasing farmer incomes, also increase nutritional choices in rural India.

CCD’s initiate is an exploratory step in this direction. While it is too early to talk about its impact, my team and I captured some of the ideas and insights from their initiative in the form of a case study for the benefit of other practitioners.  You can find the full case study here.

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