Farmer producer companies in Maharashtra, Punjab and Haryana are considering the possibility of commencing trading in grapes, potato seeds and basmati rice soon. A 30-member team from farmer producer companies (FPCs) associated with the northern operations of the Vegetable Growers Association of India (VGAI) and the Haryana horticulture department was in Maharashtra to study the infrastructure of FPCs in the state and the establishment of logistics for a possible supply chain.
Puneet Singh, national director, who handles the North Indian operations of VGAI, said that although Punjab and Haryana were known for the Green Revolution, Maharashtra was very strong in agri business, trading and exports. “The North is lacking in this aspect and there is more focus on MSP crops here. Therefore, a team of FPCs decided to visit Maharashtra to study agri solutions and trading between farmer producer companies,” he said.
“The discussions have been very positive and we are looking at the possibility of dealing in grapes, pomegranates, basmati rice and potato seeds. Our FPCs have supplied potato seeds to Maharashtra on a pilot basis and we are looking at taking this forward,” Singh said.
According to Singh, Punjab and Haryana have at least 50 FPCs each, of which 8 in Punjab and 9 in Harayana are part of VGAI. Maharashtra and Karnataka are strong on this front while FPCs are in the initial stages here and there is much to learn from them, he said. Moreover, the farmer producer companies in Chandigarh have a start-up which also has retail outlets. The objective is to explore possibilities of beginning supplies of commodities that are not available in these markets from Maharashtra and vice versa. For instance, there are plans to begin the supply of potato seeds from Punjab and Haryana to Maharashtra from September and thereafter pick up winter fruit from this state to the North, Puneet Singh said. This time apart from visiting food processing facilities, the intention was to establish direct contact between farmers and producer companies to form linkages for the future, he said.
Shriram Gadhave, president, VGAI, said that the teams from Punjab and Haryana had visited Nashik, Pune and Narayangaon where tomato auction has become common. They were keen on studying the cooperation system here and are looking at replicating models from Maharashtra in their states. Puneet Singh agrees and pointed out that the Narayangaon tomato auction model could be replicated for watermelons in Punjab and Haryana. In the Narayangaon open auction, there are no agents or middlemen between the farmer and the buyer.
Tomato is the only item sold in this manner and the farmers decide the price for their produce. The initiative, begun by Gadhave, earned him much recognition and appreciation from farmers and governments who wish to replicate this model in other states. The direct auction rooted out the agents and directed the money into the pockets of tomato farmers. Around 1,200 -1500 tonne of tomatoes are sold here everyday, with the turnover touching Rs 150 crore to Rs 170 crore during peak season.
This is also part of the initiative brewing among farmer producer companies (FPCs) across the country. Several federations of these companies are trying to enter into partnerships with federations of other states. This would not only enable companies to learn from each other and share technical inputs but also market products to different states. Last year Gadhave was in Gujarat as part of efforts to tie-up with the Gujarat pro agri business consortium producer company.
“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. Unwilling to discuss figures and the possible quantum of trade between the states, Puneet Singh is hopeful that the effort should bear fruit and is keeping his fingers crossed. So is Shriram Gadhave.