My dream: “To help raise standards of living in my village”
When TechnoServe asked the village of Suravaram to nominate a Lead Farmer to help implement its Walmart Foundation-supported Sustainable Livelihoods program, Mottadam Jogiraju was the obvious choice.
The father of three has farmed his hilly smallholding near Chintapalli in Visakhapatnam district, as his parents did before him, for more than 26 years. Like most of his neighbours, he produces coffee, as well as turmeric, black pepper, peanut and rice. He is also a longstanding member of the local Farmer Producer Organization (FPO) and well respected for his work ethic and good advice.
As one of 100 Lead Farmers in the region, Mottadam looks after between 10 and 20 farmers in his village. He makes a point of connecting with each of them during the work day, and holds informal get-togethers in the evening, in addition to looking after his own crops and livestock.
“As a Lead Farmer, I’ve received training from TechnoServe on procurement, marketing and post-production techniques. One of my tasks is to check the quality of our cherries—the fruit of the coffee tree—using a high-tech digital moisture meter, so we can sell them at the optimal time. I am happy and proud to be able to help my fellow farmers in this way,” he says.
The quality checks Mottadam performs also allow him to help his peers judge the impact of using the different farming techniques taught to them by TechnoServe. He and his fellow farmers also receive regular market updates from TechnoServe, letting them more accurately price their produce.
“Thanks to Walmart Foundation and TechnoServe, my fellow farmers and I now know how to maximize our quality and profitability. And we have an accurate reading of the quality and precise quantity of our produce at the farm gate. We are also more aware of what it means to be a member of our FPO, helping us take more ownership,” Mottadam says.
Farming is a challenging business, as no one knows better than India’s rural communities. According to Mottadam, farmers can feel they are at the mercy of both the weather and the market. Putting in as much effort as he can is his way of helping his family and village.
“The farmers in my village see me as a comprehensive solutions provider for their issues related to procurement, marketing and post-production. Being a credible source of information for them is immensely satisfying. I’m bringing transparency into our lives and protecting us from potential malpractice. My dream is to see this translate into a better standard of living for us all,” he says.