Stakeholders consultation on policy and technological interventions for development of farmer-producer organizations in Punjab

Event held at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU)

Stakeholders consultation on policy and technological interventions for development of farmer-producer organizations in Punjab

Ludhiana: “We need to formulate long-term policy which benefits farmers on long-term basis,” said Mr Suresh Kumar, Chief Principal Secretary to Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, while presiding over the Stakeholders Consultation on “Policy and Technological Interventions for Development of Farmer-Producer Organizations (FPOs) in Punjab” at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) today. Delegates from the State government and United Kingdom, agriculture officers, farmers and senior officials of PAU participated in the consultation that was organized as a part of the on-going project “TIGR2ESS: Transforming India’s Green Revolution by Research and Empowerment for Sustainable Food Supplies.”

Mr Kumar said: “Punjab has high standards of production and productivity. Quantities are large. The problems regarding disposal and processing need to be addressed.” Suggesting value addition, he said farmers must add value to the crop. Referring to FPOs, he called for making it a pre-condition to do the business. “The more the number of farmers, the more the progress,” he added. “We have to sustain the livelihood of the farmers, for which we need to negotiate for policy formulation as well as doubling their (farmers’) income,” he added.

Mr Viswajeet Khanna, Additional Chief Secretary (Development), Punjab, called for reviewing the existing FPOs, and studying and addressing the challenges cropping up. “Emphasis should on how FPOs can be organized,” he said, while laying stress on value addition.

Dr Baldev Singh Dhillon, Vice-Chancellor, PAU, emphasised on making the mandate of FPOs clear and on including more crops. “We can’t start (FPOs) on our own, but seeing the success of the formation of self-help groups and efforts to check stubble burning, we hope to have positive results in this direction also,” he added.

Giving a presentation on “FPOs: Policy for the State of Punjab,” Dr Sandeep Kapur, Comptroller, PAU, suggested that Punjab Agriculture Export Corporation Limited shall act as a State Nodal Agency to function as a catalytic/facilitating agency to promote agri-business activities through FPO. The State Level Committee (SLC) shall be the decision making body, he added. The Research Institutions (RIs) should create awareness about FPOs among farmers, farm women and the youth of Punjab; help farmers to form FPOs and provide intensive training to the potential members of FPOs, he said.

Dr Jag Sarai, Head, Centre for International Manufacturing, University of Cambridge, UK, spoke on “Digital Platform for the Development of FPOs in Punjab” Calling digital FPO a ‘transactional efficiency,’ he said it required efficient farmers’ registration and FPO formation, supporting farmer operations, and on-boarding suppliers and retailers to re-configure input and output dynamics.

Mr. P Bhatia, National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), disclosed: “FPO is a business model in which farmer acts as a company. Farmers are good farmers, but not good businessmen.” He revealed that NABARD was supporting 91 FPOs.

Mr Puneet Thind, Northern Farmers Producers Co-Limited (Mega FPO), pointed out the issues and challenges in Punjab. He said there was a resistance among farmers for collectivisation and lack of clarity on concept of FPOs at starting stage; problems of verification of producers, land record, land owners and utility bills at incorporation stage; and lack of resources at farmers’ level, buyer-seller conflict of interest, high-input cost and lack of market linkages at business commencement stage.

Senior officials, namely Mr JM Balamurugan, Principal Secretary to Governor of Punjab; Mr MS Brar, Managing Director, Punjab Agro Industries Corporation; Mr KS Sangha, Managing Director, Punjab State Cooperative Milk Producers Federation Limited; Dr BS Sidhu, Agriculture Commissioner, Punjab; Ms Shailender Kaur, Director of Horticulture, Punjab; Mr GS Randhawa, Punjab Mandi Board; Mr Baldev Singh, Chief Agriculture Officer, Ludhiana and officials of PAU also participated in the discussion.

Earlier, Dr Sandeep Kapur, Comptroller, welcomed the dignitaries, officials of the state government and PAU, and the farmers. Later, Dr RS Sidhu, Registrar, proposed the vote of thanks.