‘One Cluster, One District’: Centre moves on cluster-based crop pattern, panel soon

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Published: July 23, 2020 2:30 AM

The committee, with representation from other related departments, will closely work with states to ensure all central schemes in the agriculture sector are re-oriented with the local demand of farmers in developing a cluster.

Though the Centre has been talking about the cluster-driven approach for the last two years, for the first time a committee will be formed so that all the related ministries work together, an expert said. Though the Centre has been talking about the cluster-driven approach for the last two years, for the first time a committee will be formed so that all the related ministries work together, an expert said. (Representative image)

The Centre will soon form a committee to implement the so-called ‘one cluster, one district’ scheme aimed at encouraging farmers to adopt the most suitable crop in their district that will help them realise better prices with increased scale.

The committee, with representation from other related departments, will closely work with states to ensure all central schemes in the agriculture sector are re-oriented with the local demand of farmers in developing a cluster.

Prime minister Narendra Modi, during his interaction with officials in May on ways to boost the agriculture sector, had underlined the importance of developing Brand India for which agri-clusters can be promoted.

“One agriculture or horticulture product already grown in a district or having potential in all parameters like suitable climate and capacity to raise income of farmers will be identified. Both the Centre and states will work together to provide necessary market linkage by inviting processors and exporters of that product to source it directly from farmers or through a farmer producer organisation (FPO),” an agriculture ministry official said.

While launching the guidelines of ‘formalisation of micro food processing enterprises’ (FME) scheme, food processing industries minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal on June 29 had said that the scheme would work on the “One District One Product (ODOP) approach”. Though she had said that the states would identify the food product for a district, it has been decided to make it a joint efforts of the state and Centre, sources said. The ODOP product could be any from the horticulture, agriculture and allied sectors like fisheries and dairy.

Under the Rs 10,000-crore FME scheme, the government has said two lakh micro-enterprises will be assisted with credit-linked subsidy over a 5-year period till FY25, to help create infrastructure and marketing of the ODOP products. The unorganised food processing sector has nearly 25 lakh units (66% located in rural areas), which contribute to 74% of the total employment in the sector, while the remaining 25% work in the organised industries.

Though the Centre has been talking about the cluster-driven approach for the last two years, for the first time a committee will be formed so that all the related ministries work together, an expert said. The commerce ministry in 2018 had announced that 50 districts across the country would be developed as exports clusters. For instance, Kadapa and Anantapur districts in Andhra Pradesh were identified for banana exports. However, there were difficulties to sell bananas even in domestic market after the lockdown announced in March and finally the agriculture ministry made arrangement to sell those in other states.

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