Solutions

CONNECTING FARMERS AND LOCAL FOOD SYSTEMS – BUTUAN AND ROURKELA

The second UNDP SDG Local Action sharing exercise “Local Solutions Series” was conducted on August 2023. The event captioned how municipalities are “Connecting farmers and markets in local food systems” with the examples of Butuan, in the Philippines and Rourkela in India.

Both cities are implementing innovative projects to increase farmers’ productivity and income while contributing to the attainment of Agenda 2030.

Butuan is developing an innovative and inclusive agri-business ecosystem that will increase local vegetable supply through sufficiently and sustainably produced vegetables marketed at reasonable prices using technological innovations.

You can see Butuan project presentation here

“The Agriboost project, an innovative and inclusive agribusiness ecosystem hopes to transform the vegetable value chain to make it more competitive. The city realized that the vegetable market price in Butuan compared with other nearby cities and even municipalities is relatively high and the quantity available can only meet the demand of less than 20% of the total city population. This created a strong need to address the vegetable shortage in Butuan. It was also noticed that only 400 out of the 12,000 farmers in Butuan actually produce vegetables, resulting in the low supply of locally produced vegetables and high cost of vegetables in the city.”

Brenda Dimas, Project Supervisor, Butuan Global Mayor’s Challenge

On the other hand, Rourkela is developing cold rooms in five markets across the city to increase the shelf life of vegetables from farmers and reduce distress selling. Trained women’s self-help groups will operate the cold rooms.

View Rourkela project presentation here

“Cold rooms are being developed for farmers in the city to increase the shelf life of vegetables and reduce distress selling. Five cold rooms are being developed across 5 markets to be operated by Women’s Self-Help Group (SHG) members who would receive trainings.”

Bewin Tom, Project Supervisor, Rourkela Global Mayors Challenge

Both local governments are actively contributing to Agenda 2030 by implementing innovative solutions that align with the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):

SDG 2.3 to increase agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers. By the end of the project Butuan intends to increase the average farmer’s income through adoption of efficient, higher-yield and climate-resilient production practices and access to fair markets whereas Rourkela will increase the income of small-scale farmers by increasing market linkages and reducing wastage.

SDG 12.8 to promote universal understanding of sustainable lifestyles. Butuan aims at increasing the consumption of vegetable-based dishes through readily available and affordable vegetables and access to increased variety of vegetable-based dishes.

SDG 5.a equal rights to economic resources, property ownership and financial services. Rourkela seeks to train and employ about 25 women to operate the cold room by 2025.

The session offered a chance for the two cities to exchange their experiences and challenges and discuss how they apply innovation to build sustainable cities.  Participants were also engaged by posing questions and sharing comments. The discussions drew out insights and great ideas which can inform decisions in similar projects

LESSONS LEARNT

PRIVATE-PUBLIC PARTNERSHIPS KEY TO ACHIEVING PROJECT GOALS

Working closely with partners from the private and public sectors is key to achieving project goals. Public-private partnerships are essential for leveraging the strengths of both sectors to achieve efficient, innovative, and sustainable solutions to complex societal challenges.

Butuan for instance is working closely with private seed companies who introduce farmers to higher-yield and climate-resilient crops as well as local retailers, hotels, and canteens that provide potential market channels for consolidated fresh produce.

To access accurate data for their work Rourkela is working with the District Horticulture Department responsible for data on vegetable production and planning and they also link them to farming clusters.

DIGITAL PLATFORMS CREATE SUSTAINABLE MARKETS FOR AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS

Digital platforms, whether sophisticated or simple offer the potential to revolutionize markets for smallholder agriculture.  They facilitate direct access to information on market prices, expand market reach by connecting smallholders to a wider customer base consequently reducing their dependence on local intermediaries and increasing their bargaining power and income potential.

Vegetable farmers in Rourkela are currently connecting with customers using a WhatsApp platform as the project works towards transitioning to a more convenient platform. The Whatsapp platform is being used by customers to place orders for delivery from the cold room. Using a more sophisticated platform dubbed AgriHub, Butuan provides a space for producers and markets to connect. Through the digital platform, contracts and transactions are initiated and these commitments/ transactions are later realized through a physical platform.

BUILD THE SKILLS OF BENEFICIARIES TO ENSURE PROJECT SUSTAINABILITY

Building the skills of beneficiaries is imperative to ensure project sustainability. It empowers individuals and communities with the knowledge and capabilities needed to effectively manage the project, reducing dependence on external support. It also promotes a sense of ownership and responsibility among beneficiaries, increasing their commitment to the project’s long-term success. Incorporated in both projects are activities to build the skills of beneficiaries.

Butuan through the Agribloom and AgriMart component of their project provides farmers with technical assistance on scientific agricultural practices for vegetable production as well as organizes small-scale vendor groups support capacity-building in proper food handling and digital literacy.

Rourkela is also training and guiding members of the women Self Help Groups with technical and management skills for cold room operations.

As we work towards the attainment of Agenda 2030, we must take cognizance of the critical role of cities and the impact of local action in achieving the SDG goals. Local action empowers communities to implement context-specific, innovative, and sustainable solutions that drive progress toward the broader global agenda. The “Sharing Local Action” series of webinars will continue to provide support to accelerate these actions by bringing cities together to discuss their projects and to draw lessons to develop and implement more sustainable projects.

The webinar can be accessed through our YouTube Channel