Farmers like to see what they are getting. That is why seed companies organize field days and demonstration plots. To extend the reach of their demonstration activities, seed companies often work with local lead farmers who are trusted by other farmers in their region.
Near Calcutta (West Bengal, India) Anwar Hussain, a farmer who has worked with Chakra Seeds for over 30 years, shows his vegetable production fields. He cultivates Chakra’s new varieties on his three-acre (1.2 hectare) demonstration plot and shows them to local farmers.
“Farmers recognize superior quality when they see it,” Hussain says as he points to one of his cabbages. “This cabbage can stay in the field for 30 days after maturity. The ‘flexibility’ of this variety makes it possible for farmers to choose the perfect time to go to market.”
Hussain’s vegetables are not only for show, of course. He also sells them at the market in Calcutta. “That part of our business is run by one of my sons. He likes to sell products to the market. But he is not likely a successor for my farm because he would not know how to grow crops,” Hussain explains.
Another means of extending Chakra Seeds’ reach is to cooperate with seed dealers. New Kamala Nursery is a seed dealer in Habra, near Calcutta. Brothers Kamal and Shambhu Mitra provide seeds to retailers in three districts around Habra. Says Kamal Mitra: “We were the first to introduce hybrid seeds in our region, now 30 years ago. The quality of our seeds also became known across the border. Even farmers from Bangladesh travel to us to get their seeds for the next season.”
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