Sunday, October 4, 2009
A bad experience as an outgrower farmer for the CIC Agribusiness Division.
I have been experimenting with different paddy farming techniques and decided this season to be an outgrower for CIC in growing some seed paddy for them. I went to their farm in Hingurakgoda, and discussed the best type of paddy to grow given the expected weather issues and season, and was persuaded to grow Red Basmati as seed paddy for CIC with the promise that there will be an adviser coming to look at the cultivation from time to time and making recommendations for improvement.
My first surprise was when I mentioned this to CIC chairman, whom I met on a different matter, who said that it was a crop for export and not a seed paddy requirement. I then checked the internet and was surprised that it was marketed by their Golden Crop brand in the West and particularly in the USA at US$2.49 a lb so say it is $5 a kg. I was guaranteed a price of 40c US a kg for the paddy which is about 60c if converted to rice.
I was told it was a 90 day variety, which suited me as water was an issue, and I wanted a short term crop, and was told it would suit the soil conditions I had, and I made the best effort to prepare my fields as best as I could, knowing it would be inspected, and was prepared with a water pump to fill in periods of shortages of the water supplied. I did everything I could to maximize my yields and this was the 6th season of my paddy growing and was no longer new to this field.
The reality was even though I spent a lot more in growing this, my yields were less than half of the other varieties I had planted before, and my loss on the crop, without any cost of my time, just the direct costs of cultivation, when compared with the revenue was an astounding Rs 70K, something I cannot suffer without serious repercussions to my enterprise. The irony was that I could carry, which I did the whole crop in the back of my pick up yesterday and delivered it to the CIC stores in Hingurakgoda, about 4 km from the my fields. That’s how little there was, a total of 1700 kg of paddy.
There was not one visit from any of their reps, and I was told yesterday that it needed complete immersion in water, which was not possible this season due to the water shortages. The converse of what I had been told before. Additionally, the paddy had been harvested by combine harvester three weeks previously, and despite calling for them to pick it up, they despite making promises to pick up each day failed to do so. Am I the only farmer in this situation or have others faced the same fate.
I may offer my services to CIC to help them improve on this aspect of their business which is diametrically opposite what is stated in their Annual report of being a supporter of over 10,000 farmers using the outgrower system assisting them in every way to give them a good income. If this is not an isolated incident, it will make a mockery of such a statement unless immediate corrective action is taken to arrest this misconception.
Sadly, I cannot use this blog to canvass for people who can vouch for my experience, but I do not have the time and patience to test my hypothesis, and sincerely hope others have not been so misled