Union Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare Minister, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar today said that a new dimension is going to be added to farmers’ groups with the creation of ten thousand new Farmers’ Producer Organizations (FPOs). He said that 86% farmers in the country are small and marginal farmers, who will strengthen the rural economy through these FPOs, which will not only help in agricultural progress, but also create new avenues for the development of the country. The Union Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare Minister was addressing a meeting of Laghu Udyog Bharati and Sahakar Bharati through video conference, in which Ministers of State for Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, Shri Purushottam Rupala and Shri Kailash Choudhary, and Union Minister of State for Water Resources Shri Arjun Ram Meghwal were also present.
Shri Tomar said that in the beginning, the minimum number of members in the FPOs would be 300 in the plains and 100 in the North-East and hilly areas. The FPOs which are being formed for the benefit of small, marginal and landless farmers, will be managed in such a way that these farmers get access to technological inputs, finances, and better markets and prices for their crops, so as to fulfil the target of doubling farmers’ incomes by the year 2022 as envisaged by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. The FPOs will help to reduce the cost of production and marketing, and also help to improve production in the agricultural and horticultural sectors. This will also help to increase employment opportunities.
Shri Tomar said that in the Budget 2020-21, there is a proposal to adopt cluster approach for horticultural produce through “One district – One Product” scheme so as to give a fillip to value addition, marketing and exports. This is a central scheme, whose total budget is Rs. 6,865 crores. All FPOs will be provided professional support and handholding for 5 years. 15% of the FPOs are to be constituted in aspirational districts, and will be formed on priority basis in scheduled tribal areas. This is a produce cluster based scheme. The FPOs will also boost organic and natural farming.
Further elaborating on the scheme, Shri Tomar said that it will be implemented through agencies like NABARD, SFAC and NCDC. They will be provided facility of equity grant upto Rs. 15 lakh on matching equity basis for financial stability. There will be credit guarantee fund with NABARD and NCDC, under which suitable credit guarantee up to Rs.2 crores per FPO will be provided. Understanding the importance of capacity building, training and skill development of the stakeholders, there is a provision to provide training in organizational management, resource planning, marketing and processing through national and regional level institutions.
A number of suggestions were received from the representatives of the participating organizations and discussion on various issues was held