After a good season last year, Farmer Producer Companies (FPC) in Maharashtra are struggling to get a foothold in the procurement of tur (arhar) this season.
After a good season last year, Farmer Producer Companies (FPC) in Maharashtra are struggling to get a foothold in the procurement of tur (arhar) this season. The Maharashtra Federation of Farmer Produce Companies, or MahaFPC, a federation of farmer companies in the state that procured some 33,270 tonne of the crop for the Centre last season through the Small Farmers Agri-Business Consortium ( SFAC) has approached the Centre to get recognised as a State Level Agency (SLA). As the tur procurement season is commencing, a delegation of FPCs visited New Delhi and had a meeting with top officials from ministry of agriculture and NAFED, officials of MahaFPC said. SK Pattanayak, secretary, agriculture assured the delegation that Centre has already informed states to engage FPCs actively in procurement activities, Yogesh Thorat, MD, MahaFPC said, adding that the department of agriculture and cooperation (DAC) is expected to issue fresh guidelines in this context. Thorat said that the federation has set a target of procuring some 50,000 tonne tur this season and has a network in 22-23 districts. Last year, tur was procured from 19 districts, involving around 26,000 farmers.
“NAFED is already supporting FPCs to integrate in system approach not only for Price Support Scheme (PSS) but also selling of fruits and vegetables. Despite having excellent performance in PSF, tur procurement by MahaFPC and their member organisations in 2016-17, state government has been conservative in announcing MahaFPC as a state level agency (SLA) for procurement and to give access to MSP market to farmers startups,” he said.
In PSF procurement, FPCs in Maharashtra were linked to SFAC which is an autonomous institution of DAC and working as a nodal agency for PSF/ PSF Procurement, he added. Due to organisational issues SFAC requested NAFED to integrate FPCs in their procurement channel so that FPCs member farmers will be benefited, Thorat explained.
It is learnt that DAC has written to NAFED to include FPCs in PSS. As per PSS guidelines, state governments need to announce state level agencies (SLA) for procurement and NAFED has requested the government of Maharashtra to announce MahaFPC which is a consortium of FPCs as an SLA so that FPCs can be involved in the system approach. Despite directions from the minister of cooperation & marketing, consortium of FPCs is still awaiting the decision of marketing department in this regards, Thorat said further.
As per the instructions of GOI to include FPCs in PSS as well as demand of FPCs, the Maharashtra State Co-op Marketing Federation (MahaMarkFed) issued guidelines to rope FPCs in the procurement channel. Thorat, however, alleged that the terms and conditions mentioned in guidelines are intentional barrier to block entry of FPCs.
“On the other side, Vidarbha Cooperative Marketing Federation (VCMF) has been announced as SLA although there is no Infrastructure and institutional arrangement of VCMF and even MahaMarkFed in some places,” he alleged. According to him, this could affect procurement operations. Also, procurement partners are facing allegations and in some cases FIRs have been registered and inquiries are being conducted, he said.