For the second consecutive growing season, the monsoons had failed to arrive over the Indian rice paddies. Without the heavy annual rainfall, the Nalwali family had been unable to produce their customarily bountiful crop of top quality rice.
It was the proceeds from the rice crop that allowed the Nalwali family to not only survive but to provide the resources to keep the land they farmed and provide for the education of their children. For generations, the Nalwali family had produced some of the most successful rice crops in their region. They were a poor but hard working farm family, and the second year of drought had added to their desperate situation.
This harvest season, like the last, was going to be a disaster for all the local rice farmers, including the Nalwali family. Without the normally heavy rains that flooded the rice paddies during planting season, production was going to be barely above that which was needed to feed the family and hold a bit in reserve for next season's planting.
In the more bountiful years, Mr. Nalwali had sold nearly his entire crop to Mr. John Price. Mr. Price was aptly named. He was the Vice-President for Purchasing of a major American food manufacturer based in Chicago. He was tasked with obtaining the raw materials from which his company made their food products. His position required him to travel all over the globe representing his company to the farmers in their fields.
He was in his mid forties and had been with his employer ever since his college graduation. In the past twenty years, he had used modern technology and personal contacts to fill his employer's needs for the best raw materials available from around the world. He had always worked hard to get his employer the best commodities at a fair price. Therefore, his Board of Directors had given him a free hand in negotiating for the commodities they needed from the producers.
Mr. Price's employer preferred purchasing their raw materials directly from the producers rather than on the open commodities market. Buying through a broker at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange would have been much easier and somewhat cheaper for them. However, the company executives believed they could get a superior product at an economical price by going directly to the producers. They would have little control over the price and quality of the products they
needed if they bought on the open commodities market.
To accomplish his assignments, Mr. Price had kept himself in top physical condition. In spite of being in his forties, Mr. Price was in excellent shape. He worked out regularly, and weighed just slightly more than he did while in college. Dealing with farmers in their fields around the world had helped keep him trim and well tanned. His deep blue eyes were as sharp as ever. His full head of dark hair had recently begun showing just a bit of gray around the edges.
Mr. Price had always negotiated firmly but fairly with the producers with which he dealt. He was no happier about Mr. Nalwali's drought induced situation than the farmer and his family. Although he had been forewarned of the drought like conditions through satellite recognizance and local harvest projections. He was nonetheless disturbed by the severity of the problem. The entire region had suffered from the lack of rain. The rice that had been produced this year was of poor quality and very low in quantity.
With their heads deeply bowed, Mr. Nalwali and his family met with Mr. Price. Mr. Nalwali apologized repeatedly for the failure of his crop and inability to satisfy Mr. Price's needs. For the second consecutive year, he had failed to have a good crop to sell to his long time customer. Being a strong man, he didn't want to let Mr. Price, or his family, see his emotions, but they were just below the surface.
The distraught man was beside himself with grief and shame. "Please Sir, forgive me. It is my fault. I should have planned for this. We not only do not have the rice to sell you, but we may loose our land if the rains do not come soon. We may have to sell part of our family's land to cover our debts."
Mr. Price was not an uncaring man. He also didn't want to loose a good supplier of some of the finest rice his company used.
"Mr. Nalwali, you have no control over the weather. What could you have done? These things happen. I have a proposition for you. Have you ever heard of the futures market?" Mr. Price asked.
Mr. Nalwali answered, "No, Sir."
Mr. Price continued, "Well, in brief, at the farm level it works like this. I can prepay you for your future rice crop now, and you provide the rice at harvest time next year."
Mr. Nalwali had never heard of such a thing. "You will pay for rice I don't have to sell?"
Mr. Price explained further, " Yes, something like that! You don't have any rice right now, but I am confident you will have some next season. I have the authority on behalf of my company to make such a deal if you are interested. Of course, as a representative of my company, I must get a good deal on the future rice or they will not allow the futures purchase. Do you understand, Mr. Nalwali?" Price asked.
"I think so, Sir."
"Okay, here's my offer. For the next five years, I will buy your entire crop of rice, except for what you need for your personal use and replanting. I will pay for half of next year's crop now. However, I
must insist on a five percent discount from the price of rice at the time the crops are harvested. The discount will be applied when you harvest next years crop of rice and the balance of the contracted price is paid. That way my company gets the rice they need at a bargain cost, I provide them with a steady supply of top quality rice, and you and your family can continue to farm your land. You will have the incentive to work hard because the more rice you produce, the more money you will make. Do we have an agreement, Mr. Nalwali?"
Mr. Price extended his hand to seal the deal.
Mr. Nalwali thought for a few seconds then excitedly took Mr. Price's offered hand and shook it vigorously. The deal was done.
Over the years, Mr. Price had found that local farmers around the world were very much alike. Lawyers were seldom needed to make a binding agreement with them. However, his company's lawyers would not accept
such a handshake agreement. Therefore, the standard contract would be pulled off Mr. Price's laptop and printer when he returned to his hotel room later that day. He could also get final authorization for the deal at that time as well. He would bring it to Mr. Nalwali the next day to be sighed. Besides, if the weather or Mr. Nalwali failed to produce a
crop of rice next year, no further money would be expended, and another supplier could be found at that time. All parties were happy with the deal.
As Mr. Nalwali continued to shake Mr. Price's hand, his mood visibly cheered. "Mr. Price, please sir, allow me to introduce my family."
"Of course! I would enjoy meeting your family. After all the years we've been dealing with each other, I have never been properly introduced to your lovely family."
Mr. Nalwali pulled a reluctant woman who seemed to be hiding behind him to his side. "Sir, this is my wife, Maina." Maina bowed deeply and quickly stepped back behind her husband. The two oldest children, young men, stood ridged as they bowed and shook Mr. Price's hand. They were introduced as Mantu and Rega. Next, Mr. Nalwali introduced his twin girls. They appeared to be about eight years old. They bowed as their father introduced them. Bitu, a boy, was next. He was probably ten or twelve. He then introduced his youngest daughter. "And this is my little queen, so we call her Rani." Rani stood tall and proudly stuck out her hand. With a wide grin on his face, Mr. Price grasped Rani's hand. The older man bowed deeply and shook the young girl's hand. The twins and Rani then giggled and ran from the room.
Laughing and returning to a standing posture, Mr. Price asked, "And whom do we have here, Mr. Nalwali?" Mr. Price indicated a young woman standing behind her mother. "She is a very lovely young lady."
The girl stood with her head bowed as her father introduced her. "This is Naina, Sir." It was evident by the look on his face, Mr. Nalwali was very proud of his entire family, especially Naina.
Even though she was wearing a scarf over her head and was modestly dressed, Mr. Price could see she was very lovely indeed. Her rounded face was surrounded by dark brown hair with light brown highlights. Her
brown eyes seemed to sparkle.
With a broad grin, Mr. Price presented his hand to Naina. "Such a beautiful young lady should not be hiding herself. How do you do, Naina?"
Naina nervously raised her head, took Mr. Price's hand and shook it. In almost perfect but accented English, she replied, "I am very well, Sir. Thank you."
The connection between Mr. Price and Naina was immediate and electrifying, especially to Naina. At the touch of their hands, a shiver ran up her arm and spread over her entire body. She knew instantly something had just happened. Just what it was she did not know.
Mr. Price had felt it too. He smiled broadly at the young lady. With a glint in his eyes, he said to her, "It is indeed a pleasure to meet you, Naina." When Mr. Price released her hand, she bowed her
head and again stepped behind her mother and father.
.... There is more of this story ...