BHUBANESWAR: Small and marginal farmers who face difficulties to market their products and often resort to distress sale in the absence of potential buyers can now breathe easy.
The Odisha government has roped in international agencies to develop an ecosystem for farmer producer organisations (FPOs) and streamline access to markets besides up-skilling farmers to interact with the private sector.
Having set up a corpus fund of Rs 100 crore, the State government has also made budgetary provision of Rs 555 crore for nurturing and promoting the farmers' bodies.
With agriculture experiencing rapid growth post-lockdown despite several hindrances like lack of buyers or falling price, the skill development of FPOs will make them market ready and help double their income, official sources said.
The State government has launched a three-year Promotion and Stabilisation of Farmer Producer Organisations (PSFPO) project with international non-profit organisation Tanager and global impact firm Palladium to increase the profitability and sustainability of FPOs and market facing companies (MFCs) in Odisha.
The initiative supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will enhance farmers' confidence, ability to challenge structural inequalities and oppressive social norms, and enhance their bargaining power in markets, officials said.
Principal Secretary of Agriculture and Farmers' Empowerment Saurabh Garg said around 300 FPOs in the State will be benefited through the initiative. The farmers bodies will be facilitated with new technology, infrastructure, knowledge, IT applications, market intelligence and linkage to ensure availability of end-to-end services for their members, he said.
Initially, Tanager will study the needs of FPOs and how it can be a mechanism for smallholder farmers to make significant gains in income, market access, and gender equity. The PSFPO will work to address gender inequity in FPOs and MFCs so that women can benefit from membership and services.
Tanager Country Representative (India) Amit Kumar Singh said Odisha is one of the leading states to have formed a number of FPOs, which are a key entry point to increase smallholder farmer incomes and improve gender equity at the farm level. The partnership will help improve the lives and livelihoods of smallholder farmers, he said.
Once the study is conducted, Palladium will strategise and extend technical support to catalyse engagement among key FPO ecosystem stakeholders and support the Government to implement their FPO policy.
"Palladium will facilitate farmers with a well-organised market system and government advisory expertise for strengthening the FPO ecosystem in Odisha. It will support synchronise the existing digital systems to better serve the FPOs and assist Government entities to implement digital governance," said Director Shivani Manaktala.