Farmer producer organizations (FPOs) from six states of India are benefiting from the agribusiness facilitation of ICRISAT that will enable them to operate as businesses and make their farm operations sustainable and profitable.
At a recent Farmer Producer Organization (FPO) Summit, smallholder producers convened to explore agribusiness opportunities in the areas of technology penetration, improving productivity and access to inputs and services, and increasing incomes for a sustainable agriculture-based livelihood.
Organized by the Agri-Business Incubation (ABI) Program of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), the one-day summit was attended by over 100 smallholder producers from Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.
At the summit, ABI-ICRISAT provided the participants with extensive knowledge and information, as well as networking support in setting-up and promoting FPOs. The participants were composed of aspiring entrepreneurs, progressive farmers, members of self-help groups, and representatives from farmers’ welfare and rural livelihood development organizations.
Dr William Dar, Director General, ICRISAT said, “The FPO approach is an intervention owned, managed and executed by smallholder farmers themselves. We need to scale up and increase the number of FPOs through agribusiness incubators so that we can bring in more stakeholders in making agriculture more sustainable and profitable.”
“Our mission is to make smallholder farmers in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa prosperous, not just self-sufficient, through our inclusive market-oriented development strategy. That is why we are engaged in promoting an inclusive and technology-based entrepreneurship and agribusiness program,” continued Dr Dar.
“In India, 35% of farmers do not have access to organized credit. With significant movement of rural labor from farm to non-farm activities, labor scarcity has emerged as one of the biggest constraints to agricultural production in the country. Mechanization of agriculture is the only solution to improve farming,” said CVR Rajendran, Chairman and Managing Director of Andhra Bank.
According to Ramakrishnaiah Duvvuri, Team Leader, Management Support Group - Farmer Producer Organizations (MSG-FPO), Small Farmers’ Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC), “FPOs are essential for the empowerment, poverty alleviation and advancement of farmers and the rural poor. The Ministry of Agriculture has declared the year 2014 as the Year of the Farmer Producer Organizations. Through better marketing of agricultural products and bargaining for lower interest rates from the banks, smallholder farmers will be able to expand their employment opportunities and increase their rural incomes.”
“We have made progress in promoting and organizing farmers to become FPOs, but much work is still needed to make these organizations scalable and sustainable. Today’s summit aims to provide the participants with information on how to access markets and secure finance, and to identify the role of agribusiness incubators in taking the FPO initiative forward,” said SM Karuppanchetty, COO, ABI-ICRISAT.
At the summit, participants gained a better understanding of the gaps and opportunities for FPOs in agribusiness, initiatives by the government through various schemes, capital and funding schemes, and networking opportunities for FPO developers and funding agencies.
Poomurugesan, Executive Director of the Kazhi Kadmadai Farmers Federation, an ABI-ICRISAT supported FPO in Tamil Nadu, presented his success story to the participants and shared his journey and experience in leading the federation into becoming a successful FPO.
ABI-ICRISAT is also holding a five-day Capacity Building Program on Agri-Business on 28 October - 01 November 2014 on FPO management and seed business and agro-processing business management, intended to enhance the success rate and performance of FPOs.