Farmer producer companies (FPCs) of Maharashtra have turned out to be a source of succour for farmers badly affected by drought in the state. These farmer producer companies claim to have provided employment to at least 11,900 farmers at a time of financial distress. \u201cOn a daily basis, some 700 people are employed in the work of handling onion storage and valuation among other things,\u201d Yogesh Thorat, managing director of Maha-FPC \u2014 the apex body of the FPCs in the state \u2014 said. Maha-FPC has entered into a joint venture with the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation (Nafed) to develop a value chain for onion procurement in Maharashtra. The project involves development of storage infrastructure and marketing channels for onions in the state. The Rs 25-crore project will see the government making 50% investment while the rest will be raised by Nafed and FPCs. Infrastructure for the project is being developed in Nashik, Pune and other onion-growing districts of the state. Read Also| US may hold move to withdraw GSP till new India govt takes over Until now, Nafed procurement was restricted to mandis. \u201cThis is the first time Nafed is directly reaching out to farmers through procurement centres established by farmer producer companies,\u201d Thorat said.\u00a0Instead of traditional markets such as Lasalgaon and Pimpalgaon, the FPCs are reaching out to farmers at Pune, Ahmednagar, Osmanabad, Aurangabad and Nashik. The Maha-FPC and Nafed\u2019s JV, called Maha Onion, will see widening of market reach in onion-deficit areas. Maha-FPC has started its onion procurement through member producer companies of Maha-FPC. It has engaged 27 FPCs as procurement agencies. As on date, 35,095.06 quintal onion having valuation of Rs 3.27 crore has been procured from Ahmednagar, Nashik, Pune, Osmanabad and Aurangabad districts. Some 771 onion producers became the beneficiaries who received an average rate of Rs 933 per quintal. The payment of around 40% farmers has been processed.\u00a0Maha Onion targets procurement of 20,000 tonne.