Shimla, March 11
The government has set its sights on the marketing of natural agricultural products. For this, a three-pronged strategy has been developed.
“We encourage farmers to sell their products locally. Year-round outlets to sell their products will be opened in Shimla and Mandi on a pilot basis and one in Delhi. Agricultural Producer Societies are being established to help farmers sell their produce at remunerative prices and in a transparent manner,” says Rajeshwar Chandel, Executive Director of Prakritik Kheti Khushal Kisan Yojana.
The biggest challenge for farmers and horticulturists practicing natural agriculture is to find a remunerative price and a market for their products. “People should have the first right to safe and nutritious food. So we want farmers to sell a significant portion of their produce locally,” says Chandel.
“We are designing 1,000 canopies for farmers, in which they can sell their products in nearby places. We have already distributed 50 awnings and are awaiting feedback,” he says.
Then, farmers can sell their produce at the outlets the government will initially open in Shimla, Mandi and Delhi. “The number of outlets will be increased, depending on demand. Once consumers know they can get groceries year-round in a given location, demand will increase,” Chandel says.
Up to 20 agricultural producer societies in the state have been planned this year and at least four are expected to be registered within two months. After the initial training, the government expects these companies to manage their affairs independently.
“We have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a social enterprise Access Livelihood based in Hyderabad, which will train two members of the cluster where a business will be established. They will be informed about government programs and funds the company can benefit from, government compliance, etc. says Chandel. “And then they will train other members of their cluster so that an independent and sustainable company can be built,” he adds.
Once these companies are formed, it will be easy to know the exact quantity of products available at any given time and the additional quantity expected. “Once we know the quantity of products expected, we can connect companies with buyers,” says Chandel.