Need for farm-to-mar­ket roads

Enterprise - - Contents -

Over the last 20 years, with an ex­cep­tional rise in the size of the world’s pop­u­la­tion and de­mand for food, the amount of agri­cul­tural pro­duce and food prod­ucts trans­ported by road has also dou­bled. The glob­al­ized set­tle­ment pat­tern of peo­ple has fur­ther added to the num­ber of kilo­me­ters trav­elled by agri­cul­tural prod­ucts and food.

Apart from the dis­as­ters brought by floods and nat­u­ral calami­ties, the farm-to-mar­ket roads net­work in Pak­istan, in­volv­ing sup­ply chain pro­cesses and tech­nolo­gies, has al­ways re­ceived a dis­pro­por­tion­ate share of at­ten­tion.

Glob­ally, in­ter­na­tional re­tail chains are en­gaged in seiz­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties to green the sup­ply chains. This is be­ing done by re­duc­ing trans­porta­tion and lo­gis­tics costs and mar­ket­ing this value to the cus­tomers. In ad­di­tion, the in­ter­na­tional re­tail sec­tor is sup­port­ing the lo­cal grow­ers by sourc­ing key items from lo­cal pro­duc­ers.

This is linked with trans­porta­tion ef­fi­ciency which com­ple­ments lo­cal sourc­ing mod­els where just-in-time sea­sonal de­liv­er­ies and shorter trans­porta­tion routes elim­i­nate prod­uct shrink­age and costs.

More­over, bet­ter trans­porta­tion is a com­mon means of cost re­duc­tion for the farm­ers and also for each com­po­nent in the cy­cle. Bet­ter feeder roads or high­ways may re­duce the cost of mov­ing pro­duce from the farm to the consumer but most im­por­tantly, the ben­e­fit re­al­ized is dis­trib­uted among farm­ers, truck­ers and con­sumers.

His­tor­i­cally, agrar­ian sen­si­bil­i­ties have paved the way for the modern-day truck­ing in­dus­try, pro­vid­ing sus­te­nance to the lo­cal sup­ply chain and act­ing as a stim­u­lus for eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity. This lo­gis­tics com­po­nent is no less im­por­tant, as it leads to im­proved mar­ket­ing of farm prod­ucts. With ef­fi­cient trans­porta­tion, the prod­ucts are sold at a time when prices are more favourable.

A grain stor­age project is es­sen­tial in this re­gard, to hold grain from the har­vest pe­riod, when the price is at its sea­sonal low, un­til late in the year when the prices have risen. The ben­e­fit of stor­age in­vest­ment em­anates from this change in tem­po­ral value.

Other projects may in­clude in­vest­ment in trucks and trans­port equip­ment to carry prod­ucts from the lo­cal area where prices are low to dis­tant mar­kets where prices are higher. For ex­am­ple, the Fruit and Vegetable Ex­port Project in Turkey in­cluded pro­vi­sion for trucks and fer­ries to trans­port fresh pro­duce from south­east­ern Turkey to out­lets in the Euro­pean Com­mon Mar­ket. The ben­e­fits of such projects flow from the change in ‘lo­ca­tional value’. Sim­i­larly, Pak­istan can also ben­e­fit from such ‘lo­ca­tional value’ by plac­ing the re­quired lo­gis­tics net­work and fully ben­e­fit from the part­ner­ship of neigh­bour­ing re­gional mar­kets.

To meet this ob­jec­tive and en­sur­ing that the farm­ers re­ceive a larger part of the in­creased value aris­ing from mar­ket­ing projects, for­mal struc­tures must be en­sured. It is also im­por­tant to re­duce mo­nop­o­lis­tic power of the mar­ket­ing firm to ben­e­fit the farmer. By build­ing stor­age at farms and invit­ing fa­cil­i­ta­tion from the pri­vate sec­tor, farm­ers can re­ceive a larger share of the profit. It should not be con­sid­ered as a loss to the mar­ket but a strength for the pri­mary pro­ducer.

An­other cost re­duc­tion strat­egy in agri­cul­tural projects is in­vest­ment in agri­cul­tural ma­chin­ery to re­duce labour costs. These in­clude tube wells sub­sti­tut­ing hand-drawn or an­i­mal-drawn water, pedal thresh­ers re­plac­ing hand thresh­ing, or trac­tors re­plac­ing draft an­i­mals. In this case, the to­tal pro­duc­tion may not in­crease but a ben­e­fits would come from cost re­duc­tion.

In or­der to strengthen the agri­cul­ture econ­omy of the coun­try, ex­perts sug­gest the fol­low­ing modern changes in the farm-to-mar­ket lo­gis­tics:

Clus­ter­ing – Com­bin­ing farm ac­tiv­i­ties to pre­vent the spa­tial scat­ter­ing of pri­mary pro­duc­tion, pro­cess­ing and dis­tri­bu­tion of agri­cul­tural pro­duce. Be­sides min­i­miz­ing the need for trans­port, clus­ter­ing will also pro­mote the de­vel­op­ment of in­dus­trial ecol­ogy by pro­vid­ing com­pa­nies with op­por­tu­ni­ties to re- use each other’s by-prod­ucts. Re­duc­ing the move­ment of plants and an­i­mals will greatly re­duce the risk of dis­ease be­ing spread.

Con­nec­tiv­ity – Com­bin­ing trans­port links used for the sup­ply of raw ma­te­ri­als be­tween clus­ters and those used for the re­moval of prod­ucts and by-prod­ucts. These com­bined fast sup­ply lines re­quire fewer kilo­me­ters per ve­hi­cle and of­fer the op­por­tu­nity to de­ploy other means of trans­port such as trains, boats or pipe­lines.

Di­rect­ing – The di­rec­tion, man­age­ment and or­ga­ni­za­tion of agri­cul­tural prod­uct flows must adopt modern in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nolo­gies. Tech­nol­ogy has opened up new ways of co­op­er­a­tion, thus im­prov­ing not only ef­fi­ciency but also food safety

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