Farmers Choose Market-Oriented Agriculture
For the first time at Chokkikulam Uzhavar Sandhai, farmers from five blocks in Madurai district began selling coconuts, raw banana and small millets through their Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs).
In order to form an effective tool for improved access to investment, technology, inputs and markets, the concept of Farmer Producer Organisation (FPO) is to bring together producers, particularly small andmarginal farmers. According to the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation under the Ministry of Agriculture, Farmer Producer Organisations can register themselves under the special provisions of the Companies Act, 1956.
A total of 1,000 farmers from Chellampatti, Vadipatti, Usilampatti, Kalligudi and Tirumangalam have contributed ₹1,000 each as investment for this company. The government has contributed a matching grant of ₹10 lakh taking the total investment to ₹20 lakh.
The farmers have made a shift from production-oriented agriculture to market-oriented agriculture where direct sales to consumers will take place without intermediaries. The company has 10 directors but is looking to have five more on board. It aims to have equal representation of women directors. Apart from vegetables, it aims to sell cold-pressed sesame oil or ‘chekku ennai’ and masala powders soon.
V. R. Muthupeyandi, Chairman, Madurai-based FPO Madurai Maavatta Tennai Mattrum Ethara Payirgal Sangam, says that this is one of the first steps towards farmer empowerment.
He also said, “Through an FPO, we get credibility with people and banks. All stakeholders actively take part in this model as we are all equally accountable. We have taken the first step towards marketing our produce.”
D. Gunasekaran, Agriculture Officer, says that the demand for organic food in Madurai is rising everyday. He says that farmers have been given investment, a seed processing unit and an office from the government.
The farmers are looking to cater to a market where organic products are preferred and bought.
He also said, “The farmers will surely be able to gain a profit of 10 to 15% by doing direct sales to end consumers. This will benefit the customers and give farmers a better price thus creating a sustainable space for agriculture.”