Responding to Price Fluctuations in India
ODISHA STATE, INDIA – Dinesh Chandra Giri is a smallholder vegetable farmer in Sanopatharkham, a village in eastern India. He has been farming for 40 years on an acre of land located at the roadside. His wife, Binapani Giri, and their two sons work beside him in the field.
One challenge for farmers is fluctuating vegetable prices, but Dinesh has found that careful planning and monitoring of price trends can help him adapt to changes in the market.
Dinesh grows crops like tomatoes, hot peppers, coriander, and bitter gourd. Although he was aware of some new farming methods, he had never implemented them due to a lack of technical knowledge.
Then, in October 2021, he met Dilon Mohapatra, a Technical Field Advisor with East-West Seed Knowledge Transfer Foundation (EWS-KT). EWS-KT has been working in India since 2016 and has trained over 43,000 farmers across five states.
Dilon showed Dinesh photos of another farmer’s demonstration plot and introduced him to the process of vegetable farming using improved agricultural methods. Impressed, Dinesh agreed to set up a hot pepper demonstration plot using these techniques, with the help of the local EWS-KT team.
The new demonstration plot covered 238 square metres in Dinesh’s field. EWS-KT works intensively with farmers throughout the crop cycle, from land preparation through harvest, and Dinesh learned a wide range of techniques, including how to use a nursery house to produce stronger seedlings, seed selection according to season, zig-zag planting methods, and pest and disease identification and control.
He soon observed the difference in results between traditional and improved methods, and he saw how these new techniques helped him get higher yields with less investment. He invested 4,565 rupees (US$59) for the demonstration plot and made a profit of 56,425 rupees (US$727).
Dinesh is happy with the cultivation techniques he learned from EWS-KT—and he is also excited about his greater ability to weather fluctuating vegetable prices.
EWS-KT helps farmers to improve not only their agricultural skills but their business skills as well. India’s rapidly changing vegetable prices make it difficult for farmers to accurately predict profits and to decide which crops to grow. However, careful planning and monitoring can help farmers reduce the impact of price fluctuations and react to changes in the market.
Dinesh chose to grow hot peppers based on the market demand. He had a good yield and harvested 13 quintals (1,300 kilograms) of hot peppers. But then the market dipped, and prices for fresh hot peppers fell. In response to these new market conditions, Dinesh dried one quintal (100 kilograms) of his peppers to get a better profit—a decision that made good business sense.
EWS-KT’s goal is to share knowledge, and the India team conducted three training events and one Field Day program in Dinesh’s field, showcasing his achievements and the improved techniques that made them possible. More than 500 farmers from Sanopatharkham and nearby villages visited and were trained at Dinesh’s plot.
Dinesh also participates in the EWS-KT Facebook India community, where he learns new information on vegetable farming and shares his experiences and expertise with others.