Women Farmer Producer Companies transforming the face of Agriculture in Maharashtra

An online meeting with #FPCs of @MissionUmed revealed the confidence of #WomenFarmerProducerCompanies in Maharashtra @DAY_NRLM @MoRD_GOI @mrhasanmushrif bringing change in #agriculture @MahaDGIPR @AgriGoI #SHGs 

Online is the new mantra, screen fatigue or no, we all are head over heels into it. So over the last two months MSRLM has undertaken reviews, conducted online trainings and workshops and even held interactive sessions. Last week we had organized an online discussion with women Farmer Producer Companies established by MSRLM Umed.

In a world of agriculture and marketing which is still dominated by men, MSRLM Umed has established 15 Women Farmer Producer Companies across Maharashtra. The overall objective of MSRLM is creation of community based organizations and empowering them through sustainable ilivelihoods. Now that it has created more than 4.5 lakh self help groups and over 8000 producer groups as well as over 8000 enterprises venturing into Farmer Prodcer Companies was the next logical step.

The self help groups had proved themselves by engaging in small businesses however setting up a Farmer Producer Company with legal compliances was an altogether different ball game. Firstly it needed a sizeable number of women to come together with a willingness to invest in share capital and secondly it needed a lot of statutory and legal compliances.

Our task was made easy by our technical support agency, BASIX. To a large extent the partnership with UNDP and Arya Collateral helped as they contributed in creating groups and training them as Women Sourcing Managers. As with the general policy of NRLM the first step was capacity building in all aspects from effective cultivation to collectivization as well as study of the markets to ensure good price for their products. It may have been an uphill task but the efforts bore fruits. Today fifteen FPCs have been formed by women entrepreneurs in the remotest districts of Maharashtra including tribal belts. These are in the districts of Gadchiroli, Gondia , Chandrapur, Wardha, Yavatmal in Vidarbha, Palghar in Konkan, Nandurbar in Northern Maharashtra and in drought prone areas of Marathwada like Beed, Jalna and also Solapur from Western Maharashta.

It was heartening to see the progress made by the FPCs in the last two years. Today each FPC had an average annual turnover between Rs.1.5 to Rs.2.5 Crores in which major focus was given on trading activities and collective procurement of seeds and fertilizers .FPCs like Navi Umed from Wardha, Kalamb and Jivonnati FPCs from Yavattmal ,Girija self reliant company from Gondia and Yashwanti FPO from Palghar stand out in their performance.

Interestingly Eco Van FPO from Gadchiroli is engaged in value addition services. They are procuring Custard Apple and Indian Blackberries (Jaamun) and marketing the pulp. Their tasty Custard Apple milkshakes and Jaamun Shots were the talk of the town at the Mahalakshmi Saras in Mumbai. This year too they have procured two tonnes of Jaamun for pulp extraction and syrup preparation. Jaamun is of great support to diabetic persons hence it has a huge demand. These fruits being seasonal such value additions make it available throughout the year.

The FPCs have been active even during the Covid 19 crisis lockdown. Vardaini FPO of Barshi block in Solapur district is engaged in trading of vegetables and fruits during lockdown. They even used the vehicles provided by the NRLM program under AGEY scheme. This activity helped the farmers to market their perishable goods. They also put back on track the supply chain which was disrupted due to lockdown. They also seized the excellent business opportunity whether it was marketing eggs or other products. The FPC not only has input licences but also have dealership of Tech Mahindra for irrigation equipment. They are not only selling Drip and Sprinklers but supplying quality pipeline materials with marginal costs.

Yashwanti FPO of Palghar is one of the best examples for implementing different activities under one roof . The members are engaged in doing trading of Paddy, Procurement of Paddy seeds and fertilizers . They have established Nursery of different vegetables in low cost shade net house and supply them to the members with optimum price. Cultivation and marketing of Jasmine flowers has given them great repute. Activities like drip irrigation, sprinkler dealership, trading of grocery etc have given them a turn over of more than Rs.1 Crore.

Girija, self reliant company at Gondia is also performing well by undertaking different activities like trading , catering, procurement of seeds and fertilizers , grocery trading ,fish feed supply which has increased turn over of the FPO up to Rs.84 lakh during last year and this year collective procurement of seeds and fertilizers has already crossed Rs.74 lakh. They have also opened outlets for sale of organic fertilizers, Paddy, Tur etc.

All these FPOs have understood that completing egal compliances is a must and adhere to it. FPCs have great opportunities in years to come and with proper planning there is scope to improve their performance. Timely distribution of dividends could also pave the path. However the biggest takeaway in the online meeting was the confidence and the active participation of the Women from the Board of Directors. This indicates increased livelihoods along with the goal of Women Empowerment. And all this has been possible thanks to the grit and determination of the SHGs of MSRLM.

You can aslo find this story on the author’s blog at https://t.co/vaukh2uZ4F

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