The national agricultural cooperative marketing federation of India (Nafed) is all set to roll out its first farmer facilitation centre (FFC) for farmer producer companies (FPCs) in Maharashtra in the first week of January 2021.
The facility is part of the initiative of Nafed to establish e-Kisan Mandis that would use the online model to attract buyers and the offline model for physical delivery of commodities, Sanjeev Kumar Chadha, MD, Nafed, told FE.
The facility at Vashi, however, will bring farmer producer companies across the state together offering cleaning, sorting, grading, cleaning facilities and cooling facilities for all the FPCs under one roof, he said. Nafed has provided the land for the facility.
The Vashi centre will be run by Shree Swami Samarth Farmer Producer Company (SSSFPCL). The agency runs weekly farmer markets and also sells fruits and vegetables to housing societies across Maharashtra.
Narendra Pawar, one of the directors and founder members of the company, said that the objective is to create farmer clusters across the state specialising in agri-commodities like cucumber, carrots, brinjals and then source these vegetables from the groups on the basis of pre-booked orders from customers.
Unlike mandis, where all commodities are brought in one place and buyers then turn up to purchase the commodities, the idea here is to ensure that the vegetables are brought only through advance bookings through the call centre, thus, avoiding distress sales and heartburn for the farmer, he explained.
This will also reduce the price spread between the primary producer and the ultimate consumer in addition to making available products of farm origin to consumers at a reasonable price without impairing the quality of produce, he said. In the traditional market system, there is a lack of transparency in trade, which also leads to a burden of stock management expenses on farmers, he pointed out.
The FPC has established 52 clusters for various commodities and more than 750 farmers are part of this initiative, he said. A call centre is now functional at Vashi, which has a database of some 3000 customers. The orders will be taken on phone by the customer care executives and sent to the respective FPC cluster for processing for the next morning. The rates will be declared 12 hours before the actual delivery to the customer on the basis of benchmark prices in the market, Pawar said.
If this concept works in Maharashtra, especially since it is located in Vashi where the country’s largest APMC is located, the model can be replicated in other states. Vashi APMC is the country’s richest APMC with an annual turnover of Rs 20,000 crore.
Nafed has been designated as one of the implementing agencies for formation and promotion of 10,000 FPOs programme of the ministry of agriculture and farmers welfare. Nafed has acquired FIFA to provide market linkage support to the FPOs for their produce and create markets in partnership with the FPOs under the brand of Nafed e-Kisan Mandi (NeKM), which will be connected to the national digital marketing platform being created by Nafed. Chadha said that the 50 eKisan Mandis will be established by March next year.