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Ahmedabad group of businessmen work to empower cotton farmers

YarnsandFibers News Bureau 2015-05-13 12:00:00 – Ahmedabad

Volun-Teach (voluntary teaching) is the group of businessmen from Ahmedabad who are working to empower farmers and their families at their doorstep to produce yarn from their own cotton by helping to set up plants with miniature spinning machines made by Kannan's Microspin Machine Works in the largely cotton-growing North Gujarat and Saurashtra regions.

The beginning was made from Maharashtra's Vidarbha region, more known for cotton farmers' suicide. It is now set to take root in rural Gujarat following the efforts of a group of businessmen in Ahmedabad. The plants will be of farmers, by the farmers and for the farmers.

The group have formed an entity called Mahek Producers Company, which is essentially a 'producers company' envisaged under the Companies Act in an amendment implemented two years ago.

Under this, only those who are 'primary producers' engaged in an activity connected with or related to primary produce can be the share holders, explained Ravin Vyas, a volunteer of Volun-Teach. Some 150-odd Volun-Teach volunteers regularly visit villages and teach youngsters.

During one such visit, they identified two villages - Bunav in North Gujarat and Gohilwad region consisting areas of two districts of Saurashtra, where they grow only cotton. They will provide training to farmers in operating the spinning machines that will be bought through debt financing.

According to Microspin's founder and CEO Kannan, besides farmers forming their own producers company, local entrepreneurs can set up the spinning machines and employ farmers in the units.

A farmer or his family member employed at such units will be able to earn around Rs.4,000-Rs.8,000 a month which will be an additional income for them, from what they earn from cotton crop.

But Vyas said that as over 60 percent farmers don't have own land but they work on farms. Such projects would help, as it could check migration to cities for work.

The concept has taken a big leap in Buldana district of Maharashtra where farmers' cooperative credit society has created an integrated spinning mill using Microspin machines.

Kannan said that this would probably be the only place in the world where a farmer brings cotton to the in-gate and it goes out as a fabric from the out-gate.

This is possible because of Kannan’s new technology called BlowCard that simplifies a part of the spinning process by integrating blending, blow-room and carding activities carried out in a conventional spinning mill. This also reduces energy and infrastructural expenses besides the cost procuring finances.

The product is of higher value than the one produced in a conventional spinning mill. Besides, the miniature machines come for Rs.2 crore as against Rs.100 crore for a normal spinning machine. The entire chain would entail an investment of Rs.6 crore.

He said that only about five percent of the income in the textile value chain goes to farmers. With as many as 1,200 clusters could be created in the country even if five percent of locally made cotton is diverted to such projects and some 370 of these could be in Gujarat.

This initiative of helping cotton farmers to use miniature spinning machines right in their village where they grow the crop would increase their income.

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