New partner Gangpur Ventures focuses on indigenous women

Gangpur Ventures Private Limited (Gangpur Ventures) is creating livelihoods for indigenous communities in India’s Chotanagpur region, which covers the states of Odisha, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. The social enterprise is dedicated to empowering and uplifting rural farmers, with a strong focus on women.

Gangpur Ventures addresses the fodder scarcity in the dairy farming industry. It organizes tribal farmers into ‘Producer Groups’ to cultivate maize crops, which are then purchased by Gangpur Ventures on pre-agreed terms so that it can produce quality fodder for commercial dairy farms. This way, the farms are assured of year-round availability of fresh stock for their customers and better livelihoods for the tribal farmers.

By collaborating with local farmers, providing access to modern technologies, and facilitating fair market linkages, Gangpur Ventures aspires to bring about sustainable change, bringing newfound hope and a brighter future to tribal communities.

Pandemic lockdown turned into opportunities
Its founder, Bimal Lakra, a social development professional with over 14 years of experience in grassroots development, has extensively worked with rural and tribal communities for their socio-economic progress. During the COVID-19 pandemic, working on the grassroot level was impossible during India’s long lockdowns. Bimal took this as an opportunity to think about other ways to create sustainable livelihoods for the communities he could not work with for months.

He learned about the scarcity of quality fodder in the region and realized that it could be solved by growing excellent quality maize. Connecting a group of like-minded people, they became committed to implementing innovative, environmentally friendly, and economically viable agricultural practices. This would not only result in improved livelihoods for tribal farmers, and better fodder for cattle, but also in improved milk quality which could be sold for higher prices to dairy companies. Convinced that this would ensure a sustainable impact on generations to come, Bimal established Gangpur Ventures in 2021.

Focus on women farmers
Says Bimal: “In our pursuit of social progress and inclusivity, we are dedicated to uplifting tribal communities by focusing on the commercialization of the rural agri value chain. Through our work, we seek to empower these marginalized groups and create opportunities for their growth and prosperity. We strongly promote and enhance women’s involvement in agricultural activities, as I have seen the impact of including women when I was working as a social development professional.”

According to the World Bank, women are the backbone of Indian agriculture. Even though their role is often not acknowledged, because men are the official registered landowners, women are largely doing the farm work. It also states that when rural women have control over the household money, this has positive implications for immediate well-being as well as raising the level of human capital and economic growth through improved health, nutrition and education outcomes. It is the way to break the cycle of poverty.

Expanding efforts to support rural women
As an impact-driven company committed to rural development, Gangpur Ventures embarked on a transformative journey beyond silage production. Through a holistic approach, it integrated agro-processing initiatives, empowering farmers to add value to their produce. It established small-scale processing units, mostly run and operated by women Self Help Groups. Thus, elevating the income of rural women farmers.

Tribal women become change makers
Concludes Bimal: “Witnessing a once-struggling community now operating thriving small-scale processing units, producing value-added products that fetch higher prices in the market, is an extraordinary experience that exemplifies the power of sustainable rural economic growth. Seeing the newfound confidence and pride among the tribal women, who have now become change makers in their own right, reinforces our belief in the potential of the communities we serve.”

In July 2023, Women on Wings and Gangpur Ventures entered a partnership that aims to scale the social enterprise and co-create more employment opportunities for rural women farmers.

Picture | farmers with corn seeds to be planted for Gangpur Ventures