Paul Polak, SunPower and good news for poor farmers

Paul Polak is an accomplished man and a very busy man.  After spending a few decades researching and trying out various innovations to lift poor farmers out of poverty, he wrote Out of Poverty in 2008. Making the treadle pump affordable to low income farmers was among his earliest invention. IDE (International Development Enterprises) is possibly …

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A farmer’s son deliberates on the cooperative decision

[Editor’s Note: Last year, I attended the Anantpur Cooperative Federation Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Gutturu village of Anantpur district (Andhra Pradesh). Conversations with a few farmers and related observations provided valuable insights into the workings of a farmer cooperative and the healthy dynamic between Center for Collective Development (CCD) and the cooperative. This is a (11-months delayed) …

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Intuit Fasal quietly disrupting the farm market intelligence space

What happens when you breed JustDial and ZipDial with a Nasdaq 100 software company in the Indian rural countryside? You get Intuit Fasal – a powerful agtech platform with a mission to help farmers make more money! For my non-Indian readers, I should mention that  JustDial is India’s leading voice-based local search engine and ZipDial is one of the …

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Observations from a farmer cooperative AGM

[Editor’s Note: Earlier this month I was invited by Dr. Trilochan Sastry to attend the Anantpur Cooperative Federation Annual General Meeting (AGM). The meeting, held at the cooperative-owned groundnut processing mill in Gutturu village of Anantpur district (Andhra Pradesh), was both educational and inspirational. The meeting lasted nearly 3 hours and ended with a sumptuous lunch for everyone. …

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Ford Foundation supported Farmers Cooperative seeks Head of Marketing

[Editor’s Note: Last week I was invited by Dr. Trilochan Sastry to attend the Anantpur Cooperative Federation Annual General Meeting. The meeting, held at the cooperative-owned groundnut processing mill in Gutturu (Andhra Pradesh), was inspirational and provided valuable insights into how a cooperative can have a big impact on the lives of small plot farmers in drought-prone regions. …

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Hippocratic Oath for Social Entrepreneurs

On the final day of the Acara Summer Institute 2011, after the teams had made their final presentations, this appeal from Dr. Trilochan Sastry stayed with me: Whether you sell drip irrigation or polytunnel kits to farmers or build toilets for slum dwellers, could you ensure that the potential downside to your target users is …

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Arming farmers with timely information – what it really means

Reuters Market Light (RML). ITC eChoupal. Ekgaon Technologies. IKSL. TCS mKrishi. These are some of the leading social enterprise initiatives from established companies or startups that are attempting to deliver relevant information (crop prices, subsidies, weather, crop diseases, etc.) to India’s farmers so they can make better decisions. There’s no better to understand the final …

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An agricultural extension innovation going viral: Digital Green

[Editor’s Note: Early this week, I had an engrossing phone conversation with Rikin Gandhi (CEO of agricultural extension pioneer Digital Green). Born and raised in the U.S. and educated at Carnegie Mellon University and MIT, Gandhi “reverse-migrated” to India in 2006 to help start a biodiesel venture in the wastelands of Maharashtra. The venture didn’t …

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