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Farmer Producer Organisation a slow starter in Assam

By STAFF REPORTER
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GUWAHATI, Dec 14 - The concept of Farmer Producer Organisation (FPO) still remains a slow starter in Assam. While 666 FPOs have been formed in the country, not a single from the State has been registered with the Small Farmers� Agri-Business Consortium (SFAC), a registered society functioning under the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, Government of India.

These facts emerged at a day-long conclave organised by SFAC which has been tasked with the responsibility of increasing incomes of small and marginal farmers through aggregation and development of agri-business.

Just 16 FPOs have been formed under SFAC in the five states of Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Tripura, but not a single FPO has been able to derive the benefit of institutional lending.

In the North East, Sikkim has 29 FPOs under SFAC, which is a record in itself.

SFAC Managing Director Sumanta Chaudhari said there are challenges in the North East, including topographical and terrain constraints.

�The density of population is scattered, especially in the hill states. Mobilisation is a challenge to form a unit, but rules have been made flexible to suit the local needs,� he said.

�There is a need to step up activities in the region and hence, we are focusing here. FPOs need government, institutional and corporate support. SFAC is here to promote FPOs and agri-business,� he added.

Admitting that institutional lending to farmers is low in spite of agriculture being a priority sector, Chaudhari said, �The individual farmer�s borrowing capacity could be low. But when a group of farmers come together as an FPO, banks would prefer to lend them loans.�

�An individual farmer can�t influence the market. We need to form groups to aggregate the input requirements and output. There is a need to move up the value chain and develop linkages. They need access to credit. Once groups are formed, banks will also come forward as it is more profitable to lend to groups,� Chaudhari said.

Chaudhari underlined the need to form more FPOs to increase their bargaining capacity and ensure that the farmers enjoy maximum benefits from the market.

The SFAC, an autonomous registered society, was nominated as a single window agency by the Agriculture Ministry to support the State governments in the formation of FPOs.

Besides SFAC, FPOs are being registered with other entities like NABARD, state government departments, etc.

Amlan Baruah, Commissioner and Secretary (Agriculture), Government of Assam, pointed out that the concept of FPOs has just started and since 2015, twenty-five FPOs have been formed under the Department of Agriculture.

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Farmer Producer Organisation a slow starter in Assam

GUWAHATI, Dec 14 - The concept of Farmer Producer Organisation (FPO) still remains a slow starter in Assam. While 666 FPOs have been formed in the country, not a single from the State has been registered with the Small Farmers� Agri-Business Consortium (SFAC), a registered society functioning under the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, Government of India.

These facts emerged at a day-long conclave organised by SFAC which has been tasked with the responsibility of increasing incomes of small and marginal farmers through aggregation and development of agri-business.

Just 16 FPOs have been formed under SFAC in the five states of Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Tripura, but not a single FPO has been able to derive the benefit of institutional lending.

In the North East, Sikkim has 29 FPOs under SFAC, which is a record in itself.

SFAC Managing Director Sumanta Chaudhari said there are challenges in the North East, including topographical and terrain constraints.

�The density of population is scattered, especially in the hill states. Mobilisation is a challenge to form a unit, but rules have been made flexible to suit the local needs,� he said.

�There is a need to step up activities in the region and hence, we are focusing here. FPOs need government, institutional and corporate support. SFAC is here to promote FPOs and agri-business,� he added.

Admitting that institutional lending to farmers is low in spite of agriculture being a priority sector, Chaudhari said, �The individual farmer�s borrowing capacity could be low. But when a group of farmers come together as an FPO, banks would prefer to lend them loans.�

�An individual farmer can�t influence the market. We need to form groups to aggregate the input requirements and output. There is a need to move up the value chain and develop linkages. They need access to credit. Once groups are formed, banks will also come forward as it is more profitable to lend to groups,� Chaudhari said.

Chaudhari underlined the need to form more FPOs to increase their bargaining capacity and ensure that the farmers enjoy maximum benefits from the market.

The SFAC, an autonomous registered society, was nominated as a single window agency by the Agriculture Ministry to support the State governments in the formation of FPOs.

Besides SFAC, FPOs are being registered with other entities like NABARD, state government departments, etc.

Amlan Baruah, Commissioner and Secretary (Agriculture), Government of Assam, pointed out that the concept of FPOs has just started and since 2015, twenty-five FPOs have been formed under the Department of Agriculture.

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