In a bid to make agriculture value chain more robust and make farmers direct stakeholders in agri-business
ventures, the Maharashtra government has asked the state’s industrial development corporation, MIDC to allot land from its pool ‘on a priority basis’ to farmer producer companies (FPCs) to set up manufacturing or commercial units related to farming.
Under the scheme, MIDC will give land on a priority basis in C and D zones to FPCs, while the rates will be market-linked. In C zones, the FPCs would have to submit a project report envisaging investment of at least Rs 20 crore and in D zones, the investment threshold is Rs 10 crore.
The objective of the scheme is to encourage investments in backward areas and also promote agricultural allied activities in these areas, sources said.
The new initiative, however, fell short of giving free land to set up new mandis, a step which would have complemented the efforts to end the monopoly of the Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) mandis. Maharashtra had removed fruits and vegetables from the APMC schedule but its prominent APMC mandis like Vashi haven’t since lost their powerful grip over trade since new mandis haven’t come up to give farmers choice of markets. The electronic national agriculture market (eNAM), another initiative of the Narendra Modi government to reform the agriculture market, hasn’t made much headway too.
A delegation of FPCs under the banner of MAHAFPC had submitted a list of recommendations to Subhash Desai, minister for industry, a fortnight ago.
According to Yogesh Thorat, MD, MahaFPC, the apex body of FPCs, “Both the Centre and state governments are promoting FPOs/FPCs as strategic institutions for boosting the agro-industrial activities. Therefore, there is a need to frame policies for supporting FPO/FPCs.”
Vilas Shinde who heads Sahayadri Farms, an FPC with about 8,000 farmer members, said that such the cluster models would place the farmer in the centre of the value chain. “Until now, the role of the farmer was up to the production of the crop. But there is a whole array of post-harvesting activities and marketing that she could be involved in and such agro-clusters would encourage FPCs to come forward and enter allied activities.” Thorat pointed out that MahaFPC would be looking at primary and secondary processing, logistics, warehousing and cold storage, among others.
Maharsahtra, which a few weeks ago promulgated an Ordinance removing all farm produce from the purview of the APMC, recently withdrew the relevant Bill from the upper house of the state assembly, yielding to the pressure tactics of traders, commission agents and their labourers. The lower house had passed the Bill.
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Source: Financial Express