MahaFPC — the apex body of Farmer Producer Companies (FPCs) in Maharashtra has decided to tap the inter-state route to gain access to newer markets. Accordingly, the farmer body federation has signed a MoU with the Kerala State Horticultural Products Development Corporation (Horticop) to supply onion and pulses to Kerala.
MahaFPC plans to trade at least 5,000 tonne of onion outside the state through this route. MahaFPC and Horticop are exploring ways to establish warehousing facilities at Tiruvananthpuram and Kochi. The first container by Rahuri-based FPC Sai Pravara FPC in Kolhar taluka has left for Kochi.
Since Kerala does not have the concept of Agriculture Produce Market Committees, the FPC decided to tap government based bodies to establish market linkages in the state, said Yogesh Thorat, MD, MahaFPC.
According to Thorat, the purpose of the MoU is to establish a framework for cooperation between Horticop and MahaFPC to support and develop productive partnerships which would help in the development of long term, voluntary and commercial relationships that would help participating partners improve their competitiveness in terms of price, cost, productivity, quality and market access.
He said that although inter-state trade already exists but it is currently dominated by traders and the benefits are not passed on to farmers. Through MahaFPC, farmers will be able to realise higher prices as there are no intermediaries and no mandi taxes to be paid, he said. MahaFPC will get freight and storage subsidy under Operation Green launched by the central government in the year’s budget.
MahaFPC has opened its office in Chennai and dispatched onions from Maharashtra. Till date, around 750 tonne of onion procured by member FPCs has left for Chennai. Onion growers in the state are reeling under the effect of a downslide in prices and farmers in the state have been throwing onions onto streets and even uprooting the crop in their fields.
Wholesale onion prices at Lasalgaon in Maharashtra are ruling between Rs 2 and Rs 12 per kg. The current glut in onion has been caused as the previous year’s rabi onion stored for the past six months, while the kharif and late kharif crop are being harvested at present. Thorat said FPCs will now play a major role in selling commodities such as onions out of the state and the process is being institutionalised through the State Marketing Board.
The Railways have been approached for sending onions to other states in the North and North East where there is a great demand for onions from the state, he said, adding that the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committees (APMCs) here have agreed to supply vehicles.
Thorat said that some 25 FPCs are part of this effort and they would be targeting onion- deficient states in the south such as Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Later, MahaFPC plans to tap states in the North and East, including Assam and West Bengal. The farmer body is procuring onion at market prices and is selling them through institutionalised buyers in other states. Around 7 FPCs from Ahmednagar, Osmanabad and Beed have traded so far and other farmer producer companies in Nashik, Aurangabad and Pune have expressed interest in inter-state trade, he said.
Thorat said the federation has received an in-principle nod from the Centre for 50% transport subsidy under Operation Green. Maharashtra State Agriculture Marketing Board also has a transport subsidy, he added.
MahaFPC decided to commence onion procurement after conducting a successful pilot in Shirur taluka near Pune a few months earlier.
The federation had procured 60 tonne in the pilot to be sold in Chandigarh. With onion prices ruling high in the national capital, the Delhi government had sent a proposal to the government of Maharashtra for onion procurement.
The body also has increasingly begun to strengthen market linkages and is now using the retail route to reach out to consumers. Maha FPC has partnered with Pune’s largest chicken retail chain — Amir Chicken to sell onion directly to consumers. Amir Chicken has some 400 points of sale spread across Pune city.
Significantly, two farmers from Satana taluka in Nashik district had recently dumped 30 quintal of onions on the road to vent out their anger and frustration for being offered a paltry amount of Rs 1.50 per kg for their produce at the APMC market.
According to farmers, the cost of production is around Rs 8 per kg and therefore farmers cannot sustain themselves by selling their produce at Rs 1.50 per kg. A distressed farmer from Maharashtra had sent Rs 1,064, he earned this season after selling 750 kg onions, to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund.