Impact of Corporate Integrated Farm Solutions On Small Farmers
Main Research Questions
- How are smallholder farmers integrated into agri-business value chains through integrated farming solutions?
- How do integrated farm solutions promoted by agri-business affect patterns of labour and cost of production?
- How do these solutions impact farmers’ ability to get a fair price?
The Bayer-Monsanto merger in India has resulted in the cartelization of the markets for agricultural inputs, especially seeds, pesticides and fertilizers. Agri-businesses install field stations to develop integrated farm solutions through which they integrate farmers into global agricultural input supply chains. One such field station is in Karnal, Haryana where Bayer Crop Science Ltd has started promoting strategies for integrated farm solutions, and started promising higher productivity to farmers. This project will study the impact of the Bayer Field Station in Karnal, which was set up in 2015.
- To study the relationship between small farmers and agri-business, especially with respect to how small farmers are integrated into trans-national agricultural input supply chains.
- To study the impact of the Bayer developed integrated farm solutions on farming systems with specific impact on small farmers and their access to cheaper inputs.
- To study the impact of the farming solutions on the cost of production and collective bargaining power of small farmers.
The proposed project is an exploratory study in order to explore the different dimensions through which agricultural input supply chains operate in specific local contexts. It will help to flesh out themes for future research, and even with respect to the impact of oligopolistic tendencies in input markets on agricultural markets and sustainable agriculture. This study is especially important since agricultural reforms in India have introduced farm laws that may favour agribusinesses like Bayer, Syngenta and others over other stakeholders. Farmers’ unions have protested against such reforms because they fear that they will lose their lands and get lower prices for their produce. Therefore, the case study will contribute to the literature on agricultural input market structures as well as to a timely understanding of the changing market dynamics in Indian agriculture.
Thus far, in the Indian context, the relevant literature on the impact of corporate sector driven ‘integrated solutions’ (Abrol 2020) for small farmers’ integration into agricultural markets through contract farming has focused on a few backward and forward likages for select commodities (Rao, Sutradhar and Reardon 2017).These solutions include the full agricultural package such as new seeds, bio-pesticides, microbial management, which have the potential to radically alter the production system according to the needs of agri-business (Jha and Yeros 2019). Although input markets have been studied in terms of policy and government interventions,there is little literature on how the entry of agri-business, and especially the development of‘integrated farm solutions’ has impacted small farmers. Most of the work focuses on seeds,especially with respect to retail chains with some limited work on selected crops (S Kumar and A Sharma 2016; Mani, Joshi and Ashok 2017). However, these studies are few and farbetween. The oligopolistic tendencies of the agricultural input markets have also beenanalysed by some (e.g., Shiva 2015, Scherrer and Varma 2016; Bansal and Rawal 2020).Furthermore, there has hardly been any work on ‘integrated farming solutions’ for vegetablefarming which is the focus of Bayer field station in Karnal.
Abrol, Dinesh, ‘Concentration in Global Seed and Agro-Chemical Industry: Implications for Indian Agriculture’ in Corporate Concentration in Indian Agriculture and Food, Focus of the Global South, July 2020.
Bansal, Prachi and Vikas Rawal, Economic Liberalisation and Fertiliser Policies in India, SSER Research Paper, October 2020, http://www.indianstatistics.org/ssermonograph/2020/10/23/fertilizer-policies.html.
Jha, Praveen and Paris Yeros eds, ‘Global Agricultural Value Systems and the South: Some Critical Issues at the Current Juncture, Agrarian South: Journal of Political Economy, Vol 8, Issue 1-2, 2019.
Kumar, Saurabh and Aparna Sharma, ‘Agricultural Value Chains in India: Prospects and Challenges, CUTS Discussion Paper 2016.
Mani, G, P.K. Joshi and M.V. Ashok, Financing Agriculture Value Chains in India:Challenges and Opportunities, Springer 2017.
Rao, N. Chandrasekhara, Sutradhar, Rajib, and Reardon, Thomas, Disruptive Innovations in Food Value Chains and Small Farmers in India, Indian Journal of Agricultural Economics, 72(1), 2017.
Scherrer, Christoph and Santosh Varma eds., Decent Work Deficits in Southern Agriculture : Measurements, Drivers and Strategies, ICDD, 2018.
Shiva, Vandana, Stolen Harvest : The Hijacking of Global Food Supply, University of Kentucky Press, 2015.
- Literature review of agri-business in input markets and analysis of secondary data.
- Analysis of Bayer’s discourse and propaganda material.
- Potential subjects to be given adequate information about the project prior to interviews and field surveys. Informed consent to be obtained.
- Focus group interviews with field station staff.
- Exploratory analysis of farmer’s perceptions through some focus group discussions. There could be at least five such discussions with small farmers, middle and large farmers, agricultural workers, women farmers. This would give us a sense of the impact on farmers.
The literature review will lay the foundation for the interview guidelines for focus group interviews and the development of the farmer survey. This will ensure that the survey and interviews include the most relevant questions in the given context.
The data collection, especially the field survey and focus group interviews involving farmers and staff, will be anonymous. Researchers, including research field staff, will ensure that all participants only take part after informed consent. A statement on ethical considerations specific to this project will be provided at the beginning of the study. The research teams in India and Germany will train field staff on the adherence to standards of ethical research.
- GPN working paper of approximately 30-35 pages
- Primary dataset and documentation (anonymized)
- Brief Policy Note Outline Challenges for Further Research (5 pages)
- Proposal for further research