Ayan Banerjee

Ayan Banerjee

Ayan Banerjee is Chetna Organic's CEO. He enjoys a diverse portfolio of activities and endeavors but his core areas of interest are in leadership and organization development.

Exit dialog mode

During the week of August 27, Ayan A. Banerjee, Chetna Organic’s CEO, will be sharing his experience about leadership and organization development with innovators.

Ayan A. Banerjee is the CEO for Chetna Organic, an organization that aims to improve the livelihood (options) of small farm holding households in India by making their farming systems more sustainable and more profitable. Though his experience is eclectic, spread across Information and Communication Technology, he focuses on management consulting which includes working with the largest of Indian conglomerates, seeing their leadership take various strategic decisions, investment banking with bulge bracket league, and fund management firms.

  1. 142 days ago

    Nikhil Kuruganti

    Hey.. I guess this is a nice idea but one of the biggest hurdles that the small scale farmers have to go organic is the cost that goes into certification of the farm.

    In this regard I like what we at Perigreen Safe Foods guys from India are doing. Their work sans the trouble of certifying. http://www.perigreensafefoods.com/2014/03/the-idea-behind-perigreen-safe-foods.html

    We are looking at a slow and steady movement towards organic. Please share your comments.

  2. 840 days ago

    Marzena Zukowska

    Hi Ayan, I’m curious to know how you incorporation information and communications technology into your work. What kinds of technologies make the most sense for such farming systems?

    • Ayan Banerjee

      Happy to provide a perspective, Marzena. Since 2000, many Information and Communication Technology (ICT) projects in Indian agriculture have emerged, either substituting or supporting extension services by providing farmers with access to agricultural information. Well implemented ICT can reach many farmers with timely and accessible content in the most cost-effective and reliable mode. But the content that the ICTs deliver has more relevance if it is localized and context specific, as this improves the value and actionability of the information, which can have important impacts on farm management. However, this has incremental cost considerations. The localization of content is influenced by how the ICT projects access, assess, apply and deliver content. Having studied various content development and management processes in other better-known ICT projects in Indian agriculture, we’ve learnt important lessons from a case study perspective of this process. For instance too often, projects push content to people and pay insufficient attention to the pull (i.e. demand side), what do farming communities really need and want? We are in the process of setting up systems and processes that would facilitate a greater dialogue and interaction between the various business verticals (operations, certification, institutional building and marketing) and the farmers. Some content management and development through ICTs has helped us better examine because extension services may be able to increase efficiency and effectiveness by using these tools to support the work with farmers. Despite the best efforts of these and many other e-agriculture initiatives in India, there is no easy way for the collective knowledge to be tapped, tracked, and put to use across the different platforms. In fact, there is a critical missing link to bridge the gaps between local or parochial access and serving public needs. To mainstream such ICT efforts and knowledge management in agriculture for rural livelihoods, it is necessary to put in place a centralized search engine, or harvester, to access the decentralized and dispersed digital agricultural information repositories and network of experts. The other side of the argument is an observation that farmers feel more secure and confident and also there is better (social) capital created if they participate and be engaged in a dialogue before they consider adopting new agricultural practices and/or systems. We are still in the phase that is evaluating the fullest ICT intervention so that we can tap & optimize resources to the greatest possible extent. Coming from a technology background and an ardent believer in harnessing technology for impact and effectiveness, I /we are looking for partners to help us rationalize and make more effective our operations.

      834 days ago

  3. 842 days ago

    Kirk Wilson

    I am guessing that one of your challenges in serving small farm holding households in India is how to disseminate best practices among rural farmers who may lack adequate literacy, access to information technologies in appropriate native languages which could potentially streamline dissemination of best practices and minimize problems related to introducing new ideas, e.g., local suppliers who do not want new ideas that threaten their businesses, bureaucrats who are suspicious of change, etc.

    So my question is what are the best methods to introduce new ideas to rural farmers in India and more importantly how can you track that these methods are implemented effectively and even modified to meet local needs in the months and years following their introduction?

    • Ayan Banerjee

      It’s a good question, Kirk, and in the Indian context quite pertinent. There are several ways in which this can and should be done: (a) For any national level organization, which works across different linguistic regions, it is important to recruit specialists who are multilingual. This will ensure that the ‘question and answer sessions’ are as natural as possible (b) Dissemination knowledge through printed brochures and leaflets, ‘how to’ guides, ‘what if’ diagnostics and support(local language) (c) To have an on-field team close to the farmer base is an absolute essential whenever building a supply chain initiative. Many staff are farmers and/or have been farmers; this allows for creating empathy and an appreciation of the challenges at both ends of the spectrum: Administrative (i.e. business) and farmer level (social) (d) We have our own staff and build strategic partners (e.g. seed research, seed distributors, ginners etc) that allows us to have a dedicated supply chain (e) We also engage actively in NGO groups, forums, government projects/discussions, policy level talks to ensure that our raison d’être is well understood by all relevant quarters. That said, there are always detractors and mitigating elements for any change – constructive or not, is a matter of perspective, though (f) One way to track ‘if’ a method is working is to do a constant evaluation. Studies must be taken seriously and outside consultants should be hired to examine to see ‘if’ there is indeed any value that is being created out of the process that has been undertaken. Else, much of the effort is redundant and precious public money either wasted or sub-utilized. Auditors, qualified certifiers, consultants form part of the body of people who can help implement the best practices (g) Modification, when required, invariably comes with discussion and engagement of various stakeholders. Constant views of farmers, cost-benefit analyses etc need to be undertaken as part of the routine ‘business as usual’

      834 days ago

  4. 842 days ago

    Dani Matielo

    Dear Ayan, thank you for joining us for this conversation. Could you please explain what are the main differences regarding building an urban and rural ecosystem for small bussines to grow? What are the main challenges in each case? How can we bridge these two worlds?

    • Ayan Banerjee

      Thanks Dani. The rural and urban contexts are quite different. While some fundamentals (e.g. human psyche, economics etc.) might remain the same – or “nearly” similar – yet, there are vast differences in building up an ecosystem in the two landscapes. Take for instance, financing. It has been amply studied and is part of rich literature that microfinance, which funds microenterprises for the urban is quite different from the microfinance for the rural. The ‘aspiration’ levels of people involved in working, work ethics, enabling infrastructure, ethics (dealing with officials), local practices & customs, the operational aspects – management as well as expenses – emanating from the lower density of population, make the two completely different ball games. In lieu of bridging the gap in build local ecosystems at the BOP and/or working with microenterprises, it is better to treat them as apples and oranges. Organizations and Institutions can build competencies on one without necessarily bringing transferable skills to develop the ecosystem on the other. For small businesses to grow in either landscape, multiple areas of intervention (as listed above) should either be enabling or where possible accelerated through a market-based approach.

      834 days ago