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ICRISAT facilitates agribusiness opportunities for FPO from six states
Thursday, 30 October, 2014, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Our Bureau, New Delhi
Farmer producer organisations (FPO) from six states of India (Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan) are benefiting from the agribusiness opportunities created by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), which would enable them to operate as businesses and make their farm operations sustainable and profitable.

At a day-long Farmer Producer Organisation (FPO) Summit, organised recently by ICRISAT’s Agri-Business Incubation (ABI) programme, over 100 smallholder producers from the aforemenntioned states convened to explore agribusiness opportunities in such areas as technology penetration, improving productivity and access to inputs and services, and increasing incomes for a sustainable agriculture-based livelihood.

At the summit, ABI-ICRISAT provided the participants with extensive knowledge and information, as well as networking support in setting up and promoting FPO. The participants comprised aspiring entrepreneurs, progressive farmers, members of self-help groups (SHG), and representatives from farmers’ welfare and rural livelihood development organisations.

“The FPO approach is an intervention owned, managed and executed by smallholder farmers themselves. We need to scale up and increase the number of FPO through agribusiness incubators, so that we can bring in more stakeholders to make agriculture more sustainable and profitable,” said Dr William Dar, director general, ICRISAT.

“Our mission is not just to make smallholder farmers in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa self-sufficient, but prosperous too, through our inclusive market-oriented development strategy. That is why we are engaged in promoting an inclusive and technology-based entrepreneurship and agribusiness programme,” he added.

“In India, 35 per cent of the farmers do not have access to organised credit. With significant movement of rural labour from farming to non-farm activities, labour scarcity has emerged as one of the biggest constraints to agricultural production in the country. The mechanisation of agriculture is the only solution to improve farming,” said C V R Rajendran, chairman and managing director, Andhra Bank.

Ramakrishnaiah Duvvuri, team leader, Management Support Group-Farmer Producer Organisations (MSG-FPO), Small Farmers’ Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC), said, “FPO are essential for the empowerment, poverty alleviation and advancement of farmers and the rural poor. The Ministry of Agriculture has declared the year 2014 as the Year of the FPO.”

“Through better marketing of agricultural products and bargaining for lower interest rates from the banks, smallholder farmers would be able to expand their employment opportunities and increase their rural incomes,” he added.

“We have made progress in promoting and organising farmers to become FPO, but much work is still needed to make these organisations scalable and sustainable. Today’s summit aims to provide the participants with information on how to access markets and secure finance, and to identify the role of agribusiness incubators in taking the FPO initiative forward,” said S M Karuppanchetty, chief operating officer, ABI-ICRISAT.

At the summit, participants gained a better understanding of the gaps and opportunities for FPO in agribusiness, initiatives by the government through various schemes, capital and funding schemes and networking opportunities for FPO developers and funding agencies.

Poomurugesan, executive director, Kazhi Kadmadai Farmers’ Federation, said, “An ABI-ICRISAT-supported FPO in Tamil Nadu, presented his success story to the participants and shared his journey and experience in leading the federation into becoming a successful FPO.”

The ABI-ICRISAT capacity-building programme on agribusiness is underway. The five-day programme, which would conclude on November 1, 2014, would focus on FPO management and seed business and agro-processing business management, and is aimed at enhancing the success rate and performance of FPO.
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