Saturday, May 16, 2009

Innovations from the Field: Onion Lottery

The next series of blog posts will cover innovations from the field. Recently, I conducted some in-depth farmer interviews around Hyderbad and learned about some pretty interesting innovations that are happening on the ground. Keep in mind that these are not college-educated individuals; most have not even finished high school. What I saw was human ingenuity in its purest sense. At the end of the day, I found myself leaving inspired by their innovativeness and creativity.

Mohammed Ishmail is an eleven-acre farmer who doesn’t need a broker to diversify his portfolio. Like his counterparts in the developed world who invest in various types of stocks and bonds in order to spread the risk on their portfolios, Mohammed does not put all his eggs in one basket. During the summer season, he plants 10 acres of cotton, a crop with minimal price volatility, and one acre of onion, a crop that is notorious for huge price fluctuations. The price of onion can fluctuate between PKR 10,000 to 300,000. Mohammed sees this as an opportunity to hit the jackpot. According to him, during a 10-year period, he will hit the jackpot five to six times. Not bad odds. An onion lottery… that is innovation.

Joel Montgomery

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