"States Should Build Their Own E-Marketing Portal", Says Radha Mohan Singh

Originally Published On BW Businessworld |

Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industries (FICCI) jointly with Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers welfare organised a National Agriculture Marketing Summit on Friday (14 July). The summit dedicated to the concept of smart marketing solutions for Agriculture in India to double farmers' income. 

There were multiple sessions dedicated to the range of issues addressing a single vision, "Doubling farmers' income". 

The Summit brought major stakeholders starting from farmer producer organisations, policy makers, Mandi boards, agribusiness companies, agriculture infrastructure companies, banks, financial institutions, Agri- start-ups and academicians on the same platform to discuss a concrete roadmap towards achieving the vision of a unified national agriculture market.

The inaugural session started with the address of Prabhu Lal Saini, Minister of Agriculture for the state of Rajasthan followed by the address of chief guest Radha Mohan Singh, the Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister, Government of India. 

The inaugural session started with the address of Prabhu Lal Saini, Minister of Agriculture for the state of Rajasthan followed by the address of chief guest Radha Mohan Singh, the Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister, Government of India. 

FICCI has helped to arrange various activities that helped for farmers' betterment. He also shared that Niti Ayog termed Rajasthan at the third position in agrarian trade index followed by Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. Minister had also shared that collective efforts of agrarian stakeholders in his state made Rajasthan a leading state of more than 13 crops in the nation. Diversification of crops had also contributed to the development of farmers. Rajasthan government's first priority is to work for farmers' satisfaction said, Prabhu Lal Saini. 

In a candid chat with BW Businessworld, the agriculture minister of Rajasthan had shared his government's effort to strengthen farmers' of his state to increase productivity. He had also expressed his concerns for using transgenic seeds for mustards when his region is capable of giving similar output from traditional rapeseeds. He had informed that Rajasthan is already getting similar output from traditional mustard that is attained from transgenic mustard.  

Radha Mohan Singh, union minister for agriculture and farmers' welfare had also thanked FICCI for arranging, first of its kind summit to address the issue for serious national concern.

The minister said, "It's a subject for those who work day and night to feed us". He said, "Prime Minister had promised in his pre electoral speeches to give 50 per cent of added income to the investment of crops by farmers' as recommended by National Farmers' Commission".

He had also asked for a push to work in mission mode to achieve the said target and to achieve a better output than promised. He said that the need of mission mode is required as there are multiple factors involved in the increase of the farmers' income. Union minister had even called upon a fair possibility of more than 50 per cent of the added income if efforts are done towards the mission with dedication.

Soon after the launch of a paper on "Agriculture Marketing Overview and the Way forward" by union minister, Radha Mohan Singh. The union minister continued his address for the opening session. He had informed that few states have made changes in provisions like amendment in acts to go for a better and sustainable development of farmers while sighting few examples of tree cutting etc. He had also stressed upon balancing fertilisers use and opting for organic methods for farming. With Soil health card and integrated crop production growth can be achieved said Union Minister. The best part of his address was his acceptance of failure to address concerns about fair prices of crops by farmers'.

He said, " Mandi act of 70's had to wait for 33 years for modifications when files for reconsideration came in 2011 they were given "One day, after which files were kept in shelves till his government took charge in 2014," said union minister for agriculture.  "States had to build their own e markets to distribute the load of an integrated agrarian market", said the union minister. 

The first session had discussions on agriculture marketing reforms. Secretary of agriculture marketing government of India (GOI) said, "Removal of intermediaries, managing post-harvest wastage, democratisation of agriculture produce marketing committees (APMC), transparency in commissions of agents, use of market development fund, emphasis on digitization and emphasis on spot markets to free farmers for opting buyers are few efforts by GOI". Addressing the same session McCain India head gave his organisation's example where procurement of potatoes is done; he had also pressed a panic button for the need of processing units and collaborative efforts for farming.

The second session had discussions on marketing solutions. Metro cash and carry India's head, Ashok had asserted upon giving incentives to groups who directly procure products from farmers'.

He had also raised a very valid point of "Information gathering and information distribution which never let distress to come overlap the buyers. He said that apart from farmers' none of the stakeholders in agriculture commit suicide".      

Siraj Hussain former agriculture secretary to Government of India (GOI) and ex-chairman Food Corporation of India (FCI) had recalled the pressure he had to face when he ordered to give direct payments during his tenure. He was also hopeful that GST will have a very good impact on farmers' produce organisations (FPO). 

Farmers' produce organisations were the point of discussion for the third session.  Managing Director of NAEFED had focussed on giving incentives to FPO's for a better performance. Mother Dairy group's Sahoo shared his experience of learning to use the opportunity in the market and how it helped tribes of remote parts of Jharkhand and Odisha to have growth, he had also highlighted on farmers distress mainly due to lack of crops planning. 

Radha Thakur from Reliance Foundation appeared unhappy with the way FPO's had started to completely depend on her team to grow. She remained concerned that FPO's may not have the same fate as cooperatives had in India.

Denis Varghese of Tata capital said that he is not well aware of the FPO's but schemes like e-NAM can be very fruitful in agrarian economy's development. He had also emphasised on the huge potential of entrepreneurship hidden in tier three cities and how the timely credit is better than cheap credit. 

The fourth session of the summit was to focus on agro based start-ups and the broader spectrum was on development on the field of agriculture marketing.  Additional Secretary of GOI, Ashok Dalwia had focussed on efficient marketing system along with primary weaknesses of agriculture marketing in India. He had also stressed upon farmers' value reward for what they produce. Sunil Kumar, General Manager of NABARD's farm policy had focussed on his institution's efforts to help FPO's in various credit related aspects.

Summit had concluded with a vision to face challenges in farming sector as an industry to come up with greater and sustainable solutions.

(This article was originally published in BW Businessworld and is written by Prabodh Krishna.)