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Mumbai: Around 50 companies on Wednesday signed partnership agreements with Maharashtra’s Rs 2,000-crore World Bank-funded project, aimed at transforming the farm sector that will offer better prices for the farmer. Of the Rs 2,000-crore investment in the agribusiness and rural transformation project, the World Bank is chipping in with Rs 1,500 crore, while the state is funding Rs 430 crore and the remaining Rs 70 crore will be raised through the Village Social Transformation Foundation, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said on Wednesday.

The project aims at revamping the agricultural value chain and improving the price realisation for the farmer, he said, adding as many as 49 companies have signed the agreement on Wednesday. The Village Social Transformation Foundation signed an agreement with 22 corporates and startups to focus on increasing farm productivity and higher price realisations for farmers by ensuring direct tie-up with end buyers.

Some of the big names those partnered include the Tata Group, Walmart India, Amazon, ITC, Mahindra Agro and Patanjali among others. “This initiative will be an ideal conduit between a chain of empowered farmers in the form of producer companies and self-help groups with direct access to large retailers by eliminating the intermediaries and will lead to transformation in agriculture,” Fadnavis said.

He expressed the hope that with so many big companies participating in the project, it will be easier to ensure better quality produce at better prices for the farmer.  He also said the project reach out to 10,000 villages impacting three lakh farmers over next three years.

World Bank country director Junaid Ahmed said, it is commendable that Maharashtra is moving away from production-based farming to market-based farming. As the economy develops and urbanisation rises, no one should be left behind, and agriculture has to evolve.

Walmart India president Krish Iyer said his company will open 15 stores over the next three-five years in the state which will generate 30,000-35,000 employment, both direct and indirect. Iyer also said his company is planning to procure around five horticultural crops, including strawberries, pomegranates, grapes etc, for which it has already began the ground work and started recruitments.

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