Indore: At a panel discussion that took place on ‘Madhya Pradesh’s glorious agri-revolution, experts agreed that the state would need to create opportunities that allowed the flow of value to primary producers.
Suhas Joshi, Head-Sustainability, Bayer group, South Asia, was clear that this was the only sustainable solution. According to him, “Contract farming system was a good solution, because the basic logic – sustainable income for cultivators and supply visibility for processors – could not be doubted. However it is necessary to tweak the concept with the clear objective that farmers get money rather than middlemen.”
Amit Vatsyayan, Partner at E&Y laid out four core areas of attention. First was to stop value loss of 20-30 per cent which goes away from the farmer’s income and does not do anything for the buyer. Next was to create more value, mainly through warehousing and processing. Then was the need to encourage farmers to switch from just selling their output en masse, to participating in sorting, grading and use of infrastructure like pack- houses. Lastly, value-added services (insurance, credit etc) also need to evolve and keep pace with the times. Bharat Char, Head R&D at Mahyco, emphasised the need to focus on soil health for sustainable output. He also spoke of how harnessing digital technology assets like drones could impact agriculture in a big way.
Amitabh Mohan, DGM, NABARD emphasised how farmers’ collectives would improve bargaining power. NABARD has participated in the process of creation of 360 farmer producer organisations in Madhya Pradesh, which in turn focus on collective action, with backward and forward linkages. He also focussed on how agri processors must be linked to producers. All over the states, food parks are being planned and processing units aiming to set up facilities in such parks can directly access finance from NABARD at around 8 per cent interest. Likewise, an all-India dedicated Dairy Infrastructure Development Fund has been set up by NABARD with a corpus of Rs 5, 000 crore.
Joshi emphasised that productivity and farmer empowerment go hand in hand, as was evident in the Operation Flood, for prosperity to flow to the farmer. He also said that for farmers and consumers to connect, there were logistics, time and management issues and therefore efforts were needed from both sides. Vatsyayan emphasised that even a successful sector like milk also needed value-addition where cheese and ice-cream were good options.