SAMTFMACS wins Community Enterprise of the Year Award!

Andhra Pradesh based cooperative named Community Enterprise of the year at the Citi Micro Enterprise Awards.

“Small and Marginal Tribal Farmers Mutually Aided Cooperative Society awarded for its exemplary work in improving the livelihoods and income of tribal coffee growers in Araku Valley”

Winners sharing the stage at Citi Micro Enterprise Awards. Naandi's SAMTFMACS team on left - Mr. Garam Kumbo (President, SAMTFMACS), Mr. Satish Korothu (Coordinator, SAMTFMACS) and Ms. Anupama Sreeramaneni (Araku Originals Team)

Winners sharing the stage at Citi Micro Enterprise Awards. Naandi’s SAMTFMACS team on left – Mr. Garam Kumbo (President, SAMTFMACS), Mr. Satish Korothu (Coordinator, SAMTFMACS) and Ms. Anupama Sreeramaneni (Araku Originals Team)

Small and Marginal Tribal Farmers Mutually Aided Cooperative Society (SAMTFMACS) was recognized as the Community Enterprise of the year at the Citi Micro Enterprise Awards(CMEA) for its meaningful contribution to the community at a ceremony held on January 12, 2013 in New Delhi. The Honorable United States Ambassador to India, Nancy J. Powell, together with CEO of Citi Inida, Pramit Jhaveri and the Governing Council Members of the Awards program, presented the award to the enterprise.

Currently in its ninth year, CMEA has focused on enterprises that are driven by social mission and/or owned and managed by local communities, whether it is producer companies, Cooperatives, self-help groups or social businesses.

SAMTFMACS was shortlisted for CMEA among several deserving entries due to its inspiring story. This cooperative was founded in 2007 as a coffee processing and marketing enterprise which works towards improving the livelihoods and incomes of tribal coffee growers in Araku Valley. The earnest efforts have resulted in decreased involvement of money lenders and middlemen and thus improving the livelihood of the tribal communities who depend on growing coffee as a primary source of income. Currently 35 local tribal youth are employed full-time in the cooperative and many illiterate women get wage employment at the cooperative’s coffee processing unit.

Over the last five years, SAMTFMACS has worked progressively for the community and as a result the average yield have increased from 45 kg per acre to 127 kg per acre in 2010-11 and 8,943 farmers have received organic certification. The access to organic and fair-trade buyers in niche global markets has increased the income from coffee in farmer families and has led to more households expressing an interest in the crop care of their coffee plantation. SAMTFMACS has also used the profits from the business for overall community development such as purchasing an ambulance for emergency health care, providing drinking water facility and giving out sports kits to village youth.

“We are extremely happy and thankful to CMEA for this honor. We will continue to work towards improving the livelihoods and income of tribal coffee growers in Araku Valley. By 2017, we aim to increase the membership base to 30,000 farmers, and attain organic certification for all of them, We also aim to increase per acre coffee plantation income from the current level of INR 6,250 to Rs. 31,250 in the next five years.”, said Garam Kumbo, President, SAMTFMACS.

Manoj Kumar, CEO, Naandi Foundation and Director, Araku Originals Limited said, “It is unbelievable how a score of adivasis working with us created the world’s largest coffee cooperative in a span of ten years. They have proven how economies of scale, value addition and direct access to niche global markets have made 100,000 lives come out of hunger and poverty.”

Coffee farmers from Araku Valley proudly showcasing their SAMTFMACS passbooks

Coffee farmers from Araku Valley proudly showcasing their SAMTFMACS passbooks

SAMTFMACS has been awarded a cash prize of Rs.10,00,000 together with a trophy and a citation. It will also receive business development support by way of specific capacity building trainings or sponsorships for exhibitions and events of its choice. Over the next few years, the enterprise will be monitored to track the impact of the support from the Awards.

Mr. Pangi Chittibabu – Coffee Farmer from Araku Valley and the winner of Selected Farmer category at ‘Gems of Araku 2012’

Mr. Pangi Chittibabu gets his trophy from Dr. Sunalini Menon and Naandi Personnel Kaushalya Sastry

Mr. Pangi Chittibabu, 41 years old, is a bold and enthusiastic man of Pangiguda village in the Araku Valley region of Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh, India.  He is poor and illiterate but has managed to raise a family of six members, including three children.

In 1994-1995, Chittibabu planted some coffee saplings supplied by the Coffee Board and Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) in a 2 acre plot. He devoted most of his time to tend to the saplings and took care of his coffee plants. He engaged in manuring and mulching, including bush management. But no matter how much he struggled, he would get very low price for her coffee and the local traders and middlemen were the only buyers in that region. Coffee farmers like Chittibabu had no bargaining power whatsoever.

A few years later, Chittibabu learnt that Naandi Foundation was working with tribals in Araku Valley region for improving livelihoods of poor farmers. He also learnt about the mutually aided cooperative society that Naandi had started and whose members were poor tribal farmers with small and marginal land holdings with little or no savings just like him. He joined the cooperative, which today, has more than 11,500 members from 589 villages of seven mandals covering a coffee growing area of 5,992 ha.  In 2010-2011, his two acre plot produced 1,599 kg of coffee fruit that he sold for Rs 39, 795/-.

Today, there is a sense of pride and achievement, as he talks about the best farmer award he received at the Gems of Araku, 2012. The award means that among the different coffees cupped by the jury, his coffee was of the highest quality! Apart from the cash prize he has received at the event, he knows his coffee will also fetch him a bonus and fair-trade premium. Extremely thrilled with this recognition his eyes light up while talking about his future plans for the coffee he grows.