While COVID-19 continues to threaten food security around the world, the Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative (IFFCO) remains committed to serving its 35,282 cooperatives and their farmer members.
Due to the importance of fertilisers in agriculture, all IFFCO plants remained fully operational during the COVID-19 lockdown, while employees at its headquarters in New Delhi switched to working from home. Prevention measures at its headquarters included introducing non-contact temperature assessment devices, a disinfection tunnel, and flexible working hours.
IFFCO’s response to COVID-19 was guided by the “One for all and all for one” principle. To ensure the smooth operation of its plants, the cooperative is providing workers with a regular supply of sanitisers, soaps, and masks and is implementing social distancing policies across its sale points, warehouses and societies. Trucks used to transport fertilisers are being sanitised regularly and the cooperative is distributing food to workers from disadvantaged backgrounds, who are likely to be most affected by the crisis.
The group also distributed more than 500,000 masks, 52,000 hand sanitisers, 450,000 soaps, 1.5m Vitamin C tablets, and 30,000 food packs to 1,400 locations across 21 states, as well as its five fertiliser plants and their neighbouring villages. The cooperative spent US$600,000 on these relief programmes and donated US$3.2m to India’s Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM CARES Fund).
To help prevent the spread of the virus, IFFCO also launched the social awareness campaign “Break the COVID-19 chain”, advising staff and members on how to stay safe with information on sanitation, personal hygiene, healthy diets and social distancing. The cooperative’s 400 field officers act as ‘coronavirus troopers’, doing awareness and relief distribution work on the ground. They are reaching out to the farmers and their communities through WhatsApp and relief distribution and awareness camps, set up at more than 1,400 locations benefiting 650,000 people in 21 states of India. The campaign will continue until the country is free of COVID-19.
IFFCO made it its mission to come to the aid of the most disadvantaged communities and sees community engagement as part of its DNA, in line with the seventh cooperative principle. Its prevention measures enabled farmers to keep feeding the nation despite the lockdown. The cooperative believes that solidarity among cooperatives will help the global community get through this tough time together.
IFFCO is a member of the International Cooperative Entrepreneurship Think Tank (ICETT), a strategic hub set up in 2018 by the ICA to provide its members with useful information to strengthen cooperatives' entrepreneurial performance.