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Agri-value chains bring prosperity to Himalayan farmers

May 17, 2013

Agri-value chains are bringing prosperity to small apple farmers of Uttarakhand by helping them market their produce more efficiently.

Agri-value chains in the northern state of Uttarakhand in India are bringing better profits to apple farmers in that region. Praising the role of such chains, Harish Rawat, India’s Minister of Water Resources, urged for more such efforts at the conference ‘Partnering for Rural Prosperity: Farmers as Owners’, in New Delhi.

The conference presented a platform to agriculture scientists, farmers and bureaucrats to deliberate on the rationale for setting up farmer trusts, for putting together financial and technical resources, based on a sound business model.

Talking about the drought-prone Vidarbha region in Maharashtra notorious for farmer suicides, Krishan Bir Chaudhary, President, Bharatiya Krishak Samaj said, “Only one third of total water available in the country is used properly and rest is wasted, it badly affects agriculture and in turn affects the farmers.” He said that there is a need to conserve water and develop a replicable collaborative model that can benefit the farmers directly.

The panellists talked about taking forward experiential knowledge from the Shri Jagdamba Samiti (SJS) initiative related to the apple farmers in Uttarakhand. The initiative claims that its collaborative model works better than the cooperative model as well as Self Help Groups (SHGs) as far as agriculture is concerned, as it has more experts and professionals involved in it than the cooperatives and provides access to much bigger loans and credit that an SHG.

Avinash Kishore, Senior Post-Doctoral Fellow at International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), said that the Indian youth is losing interest in agriculture industry since there is negligible income in this particular sector. He also vouched for some type of consolidation or cooperatives to tackle agri-crisis in the country.

Since 2006, a new approach to local (economic) development has been pilot tested in India, by setting-up farmer-led companies. The innovation in this approach is that farmer organisations become equal business partners with private sector parties and a social investor. The initiative by SJS is one such model which is running successfully for apple growers in their state.

Pamela Philipose, Director, Women’s Feature Service, said that although the farming community makes for 58 Per cent of the population, it is completely neglected by the government. “An initiative is important to put the focus on this community so that farmers can become owners in real sense,” he said.

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