Enhanced income for poor families through agro-horti-forestry is one of the basic objectives of a Wadi project. Rise in income is expected to come from sale of horticultural and other produce of Wadi plots.
However, in many Wadi project areas, there aren’t sufficiently large and developed local markets for horticultural produce, nor is there an established channel to sell the commodities in distant markets at a good price. When there is considerable local production of a commodity, traders do come in as intermediaries between producers and wholesale and retail markets, but they pass on only a small part of their profit to producers.
Poor producer families are also not in a position to realise higher returns by investing in commodity processing.
In this state of affairs, building people-based agro-business to ensure good returns to producer-families becomes an essential component of Wadi. The agro-business component can also ensure supply of inputs like fertilisers to the producer-families at a fair price.
Some agro-businesses such as processing units can also provide employment to people from landless families.
Transformation of poor producer families into agro-business players requires aggregation of families and produce: only when families are united in large numbers and have large quantities of produce to offer to market forces can they bargain well.
Aggregation of producers and produce also makes investment in value-addition facilities like cashew processing units a viable business proposition in remote areas.
The BAIF route for aggregation is formation of a network of cooperatives.
Cooperatives or any other kind of business organisation formed in a Wadi project area require much support in the formative stage but, inevitably, the sponsoring and implementing agency has to have a phase-out plan for the post-project period.