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E-choupal: financial empowerment from access to information

E-choupal is an example of empowerment engaging small farmers in India into relavant information and fair prices for their commodities

Photo of André Fernandes
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I remembered this case while reading C.K Prahalad's book about wealth on bottom of pyramid. As he mentions along his studies, provide access to information is a key-point to include the poor social strata into market and society.

Before the e-Choupals, the commercialization of the commodities produced by the small farmers attended used to depend upon 3 distribution channels: 

- the intermmediate agents that resell to the processors;

- the cooperatives belonging to someone with an own mill;

- and the mandis, a kind of auction house.

And throughout the process described above, the small farmers used to receive the least payment of the value chain of the commodities they produce, while the agents and other intermmediate "take advantage" with the commissions and control all the value chain processes. 

In hindi, choupal means like "meeting point". So, the e-Choupal, based on a computer installed at a local leader's house, consists as meeting place where the participant farmers can get informed about the rates/prices of their commodities,  the weather, market trends, best practices - which makes possible to access insights and suggestions on how to improve their production.

As exposed on the video attached, farmers used to feel ashamed and powerless due to the unfair payment received for their commodities and their lack of choice, as the production was taken by agents according to their stablished payment criteria and the cheatings on weighing process that implies greater losses for the small farmers.

Moreover a simple computer enough to give access to information to the participant farmers, the e-Choupal also involves a head office where the farmers can sell their commodities for the market prices and weighed on electronic scales.

At the community level, such initiative stimulates a local market as the farmers have their income increased, contributes to improve the quality of the commodities and optimize local infrasctructure, as well as to reduce the migration from rural areas to overpopulated urban spaces.


E-choupal website

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Photo of Meena Kadri

So glad you added this, Andre. It's an awesome example of empowering farmers who are left struggling by intermediaries. Certainly interesting for us to consider disrupting supply chains as an opportunity for our upcoming Ideas phase...

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Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard

Indeed a great example. To add to Meena's point: disrupting supply chains by increasing transparency (access to information) and thus taking out the middle men.