India has a rich history of agricultural heritage and agrarian economy. India stands in second rank worldwide in farm output. Almost 50% of total workforce in India are directly or indirectly related to agricultural activities and it is one of the broadest economic factor contributing by around 16.6% to total GDP (as in 2009, considering sectors like fisheries and forestry). However, the growth factor associated with this particular sector is steadily decreasing in contrast to the developing socio-economic development that is taking place. The huge potential that lies in the rural sector in terms of agricultural products is either under-appreciated or not properly targeted in the shadow of tremendous progress of other sectors accelerated by technological advancement. In the context of management education, therefore, it is of utmost necessity to make the management students aware of the huge potential that can contribute to inclusive growth of an economy both in terms of economic growth and socio-cultural development.
Keeping this in focus, a seminar was organized at MARC School of Business on 25th January, 2013. The seminar was attended by Ms. Annemarie Ryu, a prolific social entrepreneur at Harvard University. She is the founder and the CEO of Global Village Fruits Inc. that won Harvard’s 2012 Innovation challenge for work on imports of organic jack-fruits from farmer cooperatives in India. She addressed the student managers of MARC on Rural Entrepreneurship and shared her own experience on her entrepreneurial debut in this particular sphere of business.
Ms. Ryu hails from Minnesota, USA from a family of medical practitioners. The business model of her venture is based on import of jack-fruits from India which is a major producer of Jackfruits. A total production of 75% of jackfruits around the world happens in India and some very rare varieties of jack-fruits are produced in India. USA is a huge market of jackfruit consumption and a major part of jack-fruits are imported from countries like Mexico, Brazil. However a major amount of such jack-fruits produced in India gets wasted due to lack of proper market place. In this context, Ms. Ryu also mentioned that her initial effort has been quite successful and the year 2012 saw a raise of around 10 times of jack-fruits import to USA. She also mentioned that the journey was not hassle-free where she had to go through various regulations such as getting approval from FDA (Food and Drug Administration, USA), US Customs etc. However, she was able to create a major market for these imported products and around 44 major supermarkets in USA buy these imported fruits. She plays a pivotal role in the whole process by maintaining direct interface with the farmers based in India. It is mentionable that jack-fruits have major importance in terms of its usage as raw materials in various other products including confectionery products.
Also present in the seminar was Agricultural Expert Mr. Uday Kumar Kollimath. He is a management practitioner with more than 26 years of experience in sales and marketing of agro-based products with leading companies like SPIC, Zuari and Oriental Floratech. A graduate from University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore and Canadian School of Management, Mr Kollimath heads the management program at Sri Sri Agribusiness Academy in Bangalore. In his address speech to the students, he mentioned that there are 250 different varieties of jackfruits found in the North-Eastern part of India. He insisted the importance of reconnecting to the villages to explore opportunities lying in terms of such rare agricultural products. The opportunities have been lying in agricultural sectors and it should be explored through education in Business Schools. There is a dearth of labor force in villages and it has become very important to have a glimpse of this depleting working force in rural area. He asked the students to enthusiastically volunteer and make themselves as part of the rural agricultural life through rural entrepreneurships. He said there are ample opportunities for the budding business students in rural sector and he cited the example of salad market which has got a significant market in India. Referring to a research, he mentioned that raw foods have got better cost saving compared to the cooked foods. He also mentioned about Millet production in India which has very good opportunities in terms of the nutritious contents, fiber contents and proteins. However, there is no organized market for varieties of Millets that are produced in India.
The seminar was also attended by distinguished Rural Entrepreneur Mr. Jaisimha. He reiterated the essential potentials underlying jackfruit productions. Addressing the students, he said that the traditional concept of water reserve by building water dam has becomeobsolete and time has arrived to see this problem from a new perspective.
“I see jack-fruit tree as reservoir of water”, he said. Talking about organic milk production in reference to rural entrepreneurship, he said that there is no big infrastructure needed for such business. “If you are self-driven, just forget about jobs”, he said. He expressed his hope that MARC School of Business would produce exemplary entrepreneurs which can drive the nation forward.
The students actively participated in the seminar and came up with their questions in an inquisitive effort to learn the essence of rural entrepreneurship.
To know more about Ms. Ryu, please click here.
Connect to Mr. Uday Kumar Kollimath here
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