A few months ago, India’s largest pulp and paper company, Ballarpur Industries Ltd. (BILT), responded to the Business Call to Action (BCtA) (a global network of business leaders applying their skills to the challenges of poverty), by bringing 5,000 Central Indian farmers into its supply chain. In its efforts to promote sustainable tree farming and connect farmers to the formal market, the company will offer them financing to purchase pulpwood tree seeds, technical inputs, and guaranteed buy-back of the crops. Ballarpur’s new approach provides farmers with a steady source of income while also ensuring a steady source of raw materials for the company.  

New Delhi, India – Ballarpur Industries Limited (BILT), an Avantha Group company and India’s largest pulp and paper company, today announced that it is joining the Business Call to Action (BCtA), a global partnership of business leaders that apply their core business expertise and technology to tackle poverty.

BILT’s initiative aims to support the development of sustainable tree farming in central India by integrating farmers living in extreme poverty into its paper and pulp supply chain in two states in the country – Orissa and Andhra Pradesh. Through this scheme, smallholder farmers will be provided access to finance to purchase seeds for pulpwood trees, guidance on growing pulpwood, and an assured market through its guaranteed buy-back programme.

Farmers will also be given opportunities to diversify their income base through training in agricultural intercropping and livestock husbandry. By 2015, farmers participating in the programme are expected to earn six times more per acre of degraded land than non-participating farmers.

“The Business Call to Action promotes inclusive, sustainable development where everyone benefits as one of the most effective methods of combating poverty,” BCtA’s Programme Manager Natalie Africa said. “BILT’s initiative will guarantee poor farmers access to a sustainable source of income and opportunity, while providing the company with a long-term supply of raw materials for its products. The programme is a win-win for both sides and represents an important contribution to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.”

“It is indeed an honour to be part of this global initiative,” said R.R.Vederah, Managing Director of BILT. “This partnership strengthens our belief in ‘inclusive growth’ which is core to the Avantha Group’s philosophy. Joining hands with the BCtA will help us reiterate our commitment to the Millennium Development Goals and be a part of this global pledge to alleviate poverty.”

BILT employs strict measures to ensure that farmers use only non-fertile land for pulpwood farming. The eucalyptus-type crop is entirely rain-fed and does not require additional irrigation.