A new initiative is brewing among farmer producer companies (FPCs) across the country. Several federations of these companies are attempting to enter partnerships with federations of other states. This would not only enable companies to learn from each other , share technical inputs but also market products to different states.
Shriram Gadhave, president, Vegetable Growers Association of India (VGAI) and also president of the Maharashtra Federation of Farmer Producers Organisation ( MFFPO), is presently in Gujarat attempting a tie-up with the Gujarat Pro Agri Business Consortium Producer Company. “There is a lot we can learn from the federation of farmer producer companies in Maharashtra,” says Kuldeep Solanki, its director. “We have around 25 farmer producer companies in our federation and are attempting to increase these numbers to some 50 companies in a year or two.
The attempt is to be able to bring some 100-120 companies under the umbrella of the federation gradually. The objective is to be able to service these companies well and strengthen their marketing, and help them market both commodities and value-added products to sellers across the country”, he said.
“Our FPCs are strong in mango, mango pulp, groundnut and wheat, among others, and our attempt is to be able to sell these in other states as well,” Solanki said. His federation is also in talks with similar federations in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Gadhave says the attempt is to bring all the state federations under a common umbrella and form a national apex body. The country has some 600 FPCs, of which a third are in Maharashtra alone. Madhya Pradesh was earlier leading the pack with 100 FPCs but Maharashtra has overtaken it and has also formed the first apex FPC in the country, the Maharashtra Rajya Shetkari Company Federation. The apex FPC, which has representatives from 10 major FPCs in the state, will help the rest of the FPCs to find better markets for their products.
There are similar smaller markets running across the country. However, these are run entirely by farmers without any form of government support. Gadhave said that the process has been on for a couple of years and after a short lull, is being re-attempted again. VGAI has been in talks with several farmer producer companies in the north and south India to help them form federations and bring them into the proposed apex organisation.
The idea is to prepare a website for the apex FPC that will also contain links to markets in London and Dubai, and will help the FPCs get export licences as well, Gadhave said. VGAI has already been meeting farmer producer companies in Chandigarh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Kerala so far. Gadhave also visited Dubai recently where he visited Gulfood 2016, one of the biggest annual food and hospitality trade events in the world. Gulfood takes place at a critical time in the world harvest cycle. To keep on top of pricing trends, buyers are present at the event.
At Gulfood, over 90,000 visitors from 160 countries network with thousands of industry peers and people passionate about driving the market forward. Gadhave was in Dubai to obtain an export licences for the Maharashtra federation and also meet up with traders and exhibitors at the show. The licensing process may take several months but the federation has received inquiries from traders at the event, he said.
Recently, some 276 agreements were signed between FPCs and traders, exporters and bulk buyers at the first buyer-seller meet in Pune, organised under the auspices of the Maharashtra Agriculture Department and the Maharashtra Agriculture Competitiveness Project (MACP) through an ambitious World Bank-aided project. These agreements have been signed between FPCs and buyers for a volume of 79,751 tonne of grains, pulses, fruits and vegetables at a value of some R260 crore. Gadhave said his organisation is also part of this effort.
Maharashtra companies under Gadhave’s organisation currently have a turnover of Rs 15 crore.