Launched in 2014, the Agri-Entrepreneur Model is SFI’s flagship initiative. The AE model follows a decentralized approach in empowering rural youth and incentivizes them to play an active role in agricultural development in their region. An AE brings together services such as credit and market linkage, access to high-quality input and crop advisory for a cluster of about 150-200 farmers. The model is currently active across Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, and West Bengal. As of January 2020, the total number of AEs associated with SFI is 2666. With over 40 partner organizations the program has stitched together a robust ecosystem to support smallholders.
The AE model is currently active across Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, and West Bengal. A total of 2666 entrepreneurs spread across these geographies serve approximately 220,000 farmers.
Each individual AE works alongside 150-200 farmers in a cluster of 4-5 villages. AEs act as one-stop resource providers for the agricultural needs of small and marginal farmers. A few mandatory selection criteria for the AEs are residency from the village cluster and basic educational qualifications (class X).
In the past, agri-entrepreneur models have been tried in India. However, most of these AEs in the market are typically input dealers who are indiscriminately selling agri-inputs, often spuriously. The AEs promoted by SFI are involved in various activities such as seeds and market linkage, all of which ensure an increase in farmer incomes. SFI along with their partner NGOs supervise their AEs and have strict policies in place which disengage financial support from IDBI in the case an AE indulges in misleading or illicit activities.
Each AE essentially has four critical functions:
- Providing better quality inputs,
- Knowledge and crop advisory,
- Market Linkage and,
- Credit facilitation.
AEs act as business correspondents and facilitate agri-credit to small and marginal farmers. An AE derives his revenue from providing the aforementioned services to the farmers. For an AE to be successful, they need to work alongside at least 200 farmers across 100 acres, in order to earn up to INR 200,000 per year.
The success of the project in Maharashtra (Jawhar Block) and across Odisha has prompted more partners across regions; Telangana (SERP), Bihar (Jeevika), Madhya Pradhesh, Jharkhand and new areas in Maharashtra to popularize and implement the model.
- The total number of AEs as of January 2020 is 2666.
- The total number of farmers reached is 217,179 with an area coverage of 378,475 acres.
- The total value of transactions carried out by the AEs in the last quarter of 2019 was INR 22.5 crores (3,179,648 USD).