Maharashtra’s ambitious pulse procurement programme has gone digital. The Farmer Producer Companies ( FPCs) in the state are getting tech-savvy and have taken the digital route. For the first time, Mahafed – the Maharashtra Federation of Farmer Producer Companies – has begun a pilot to set up a commodity supply chain management system in place with the aim to connect producer to the customer. The federation has linked over 60 farmer producer companies in the state to feed in real time details on procurement of pulses to bring in transparency in the system and also speed up payment systems, said Yogesh Thorat, MD of the federation.
ICSM (Indian Commodity Supply Chain Management) is a web mobility-based unique agriculture commodity procurement model that utilises registered FPCs as the field-level agency to conduct the procurement operation with technical and logistics support. In this process, the Small Farmers’ Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC) is the central procurement agency to provide the funding, he said. The logic of this model is that farmers themselves are the most appropriate agents for conducting procurement operation and their collective institutions such as FPCs are the most efficient and cost effective procurement agencies available.
The system also contains details about the farmers who have sold their pulses to the procurement centres with the aim of linking their bank accounts to the system. MahaFPC had begun the programme of pulses under the Price Stabilisation Fund scheme of SFAC for some 20,000 tonne through FPCs. Purchases of some 3,000 tonne have been recorded real time on the portal through this pilot and this effort is being made to ensure that the federation is better prepared for such eventualities in the future, Thorat said.
So far, some 60 FPCs are linked to the programme and the effort is to ensure that more companies are brought into the chain soon, he said. The federation has some 155 FPCs participating in the pulse procurement programme that begun at the start of the Tur harvesting season in Maharashtra. With a bumper tur crop in the state this season, the federation was roped in by SFAC to procure pulses from the key pulse producing regions of the state. The procurement programme began since December 25 last year and is expected to continue till April 15.
It may be mentioned here that the Price Stabilisation Fund Committee has decided to continue procurement of tur or arhar (split red gram) till April 15 in view of a bumper harvest.Till date, the government has purchased a little over a million tonnes of pulses from farmers, of which about 6,00,000 tonnes is from domestic market and the rest is through import. The plan is for a buffer stock of two million tonnes to keep a lid on prices when there is a shortage. The government has also decided to dispose of over 100,000 tonnes from its buffer stock through a mechanism of dynamic reserve pricing as a one-time measure, ahead of the new procurement season.
The panel also approved a request from the Maharashtra government to hire private godowns for storing of pulses and to allow local authorities to purchase sacks from the market, after the ministry of textiles expressed its inability to supply them. The shortage of these has been a problem in that state, which is one of the biggest growers of pulses.
The Federation of FPCs has signed an MoU with the SFAC for procurement of tur for Maharashtra. The Centre has fixed MSP at R5,050 per quintal.This is the first time any federation of farmer produce companies has begun procurement of pulses on such a large scale. Thorat said the procurement programme is now coming to a close and the federation is preparing to bring in a more efficient payment delivery mechanism for farmers.