“We’ve set a goal to touch lives of 5 lakh farmers by 2025”
“With India’s agricultural production increasing and the crops getting increasingly diversified, the need for scientific warehousing will remain robust. The government through the Rs 1 lakh crore agri infrastructure fund, has been rightly promoting the development of warehousing infrastructure. Warehouse Service Providers could potentially create an important alternative distribution model for farmers and FPOS providing them better market access and price discovery.
The Government of India has correctly identified the need to improve farm gate infrastructure which will reduce logistics costs, wastages during transportation thereby improve farmers’ realisation. Farm gate infrastructure would include beyond creation of state of the art warehouses, investment in laboratories for quality checks, technology that too in several hundred locations proximate to farmers. Technology will enable capturing of data by digitising records to estimate production and storage. With the help of these grants, grading and sorting facilities should be created near the farm gate and quality testing laboratories should be set up in the APMC mandis to reduce subjectivity in quality assessment and rejection of produce. With the help of e-mandi Licences by State Governments like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh etc, these infrastructure can be created as a potential farm gate procurement centre which will enable Digitisation of data at the procurement level, direct payment to farmers in JAN-DHAN Account thereby eradicating the red-tape and also facilitate inter-state trade which will also open farmers to market /price opportunities across India rather than be tied to local mandis/markets which may not be able to absorb supply especially during the harvest season.
This will promote Private Investment in infrastructure supported by the government and create multiple opportunities for allowing private Warehouse Service providers to improve efficiencies of procurement and storage which could help manage the mounting food subsidy bills of the government. Farmer Producer
Organisations (FPOS) have generated interest among private investors to encourage farm gate procurement and also market various agri- inputs along with finance for direct marketing of produce. Such groups will create more competition in the market, improve bargaining power and ensure better prices to member producers. Cluster based approach for procurement, storage and processing of agri commodities should also be incentivised.
With the more global economy and EXIM agri – trade, market participants are likely to tend towards the informal way of Quality Standards. Introduction of Quality standards and monitoring of the same with the help of Private Sector Professional services to prohibit poor grade quality procurement will also spread awareness and encourage farmers to bring quality produce for the right prices. Therefore, there is a need to create awareness about MSP, FAQ standards, system of procurement, etc.
In India, the largest Agri Warehousing Capacities are with the CWCS, SWCS, FCI and State Co-operatives etc. Considering the current status of majority of the Warehouses and Storage Facilities, there is a dire need for upgrading and modernising the Government Owned Warehouses to make them state of the art warehouses having all the required facilities for a procurement, storage and fulfilment centre. These kinds of facilities along with technology infrastructure will enable efficiencies in the whole value chain with transparency and accountability. In the year 2022, the government should allow private sector WSPS to manage these warehouses to bring efficiencies in the value chain with their know-how.
As a part of vision, we will support the development of FPOS and other farmer collectives to dis-intermediate the post-harvest value chain by facilitating direct procurement, agri credit etc. We have set ourselves a goal to touch directly or through Farmer collectives, the lives of five lakh farmers by 2025!
Ramesh Doraiswami, Managing Director & CEO, National Bulk Handling
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