When farmers are free: The Story of "Beru"

Agriculture has been pivotal to the Indian society since the beginning of human civilization. It has been the primary source of livelihood for majority of the Indian population. The emergence of industrialization and scientific agriculture, especially the Green Revolution, led to a shift from traditional practices to the modern ones which made use of extensive synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Their persistent use has led to the depletion and exhaustion of the soil. The quality of the soil drastically declined and resulted in low productivity. Since then there has been the hustle between the farm and the markets.

The inappropriate and extensive use of agro-chemicals can have severe consequences including contamination of the groundwater degradation of the soil and farmers losing lives due to pesticide poisoning. In 2017 800 farmers in Maharashtra reported pesticide poisoning and several died. Moreover, crops that made use of artificial fertilizers showed quicker results which yielded more income was why many farmers turned to them. But in a long run, these chemicals reduce the fertility of the soil causing more harm than gain. The Plight of farmers is decades old story that is yet to find some relief.

Not only losing on the production side, but the farmers had to deal with constraints from the market as well. With rising prices for end consumers, the profitability of farmers has not kept reducing. The middlemen menace has tied the farmers at the losing end.

Back to the roots

A harmony between the producer, supply and the end consumer is the prior need not only to support farmers but also safeguard producers and consumers from the harms of the synthetic agro-chemicals used. Promoting Natural farming profitably can be a win-win for both farmers and consumers. It makes use of Nature in its finest form, the microbes living in soil increase the fertility, the waste generated from organic materials like crops, animals, farm and aquatic wastes are used as bio-fertilizers increase the sustainability of the products. It avoids the usage of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, hormones, feed additives to the maximum extent and relies on the rotation of the crop, residues, organic manure.

This is where Beru emerges with the solution. Beru is a natural farming platform that offers agribusiness solutions to the farmers and establishes market access for their produce. Beru means ‘Back to Roots’ and was founded by three nature enthusiasts who wanted to improve the farmers’ locale in India and help more farmers take up natural farming. Their mission is to spread the knowledge of organic farming across communities. It provides agriculture inputs to the farmers and serve the customers with fresh and healthy organic food. Their main objective is to cultivate chemical free and nutritious food grown for their customers.

Farm supports are provided by Beru to the farmers to help them conduct the process of natural farming at ease. After all the manual effort and labour, it would be an utter waste if the products are not consumed by the people. By providing market access, Beru helps the farmers sell the products at a profitable rate. Usually, the supply chain includes the APMC (Agricultural Produce and Livestock Market Committee), the commissioned agents and then the wholesaler and retailer. But Beru helps the farmers to directly provide to the B2B (Business-to-business) customers or even sometimes the retail customers which cut short the whole supply chain by creating an immediate relationship with their customers and an increase in the revenue. There has been a noticeable difference of at least 20% in the farm revenue of individual farmer.

Beru operates from a village in Ramanagara, on the outskirts of Bangalore. The pilot project comprises of 1 village,12 farmers, 40 acres of land and 22 different varieties of crops. The farm inputs they offer include:

  • Traini