Covid-19 | FPOs in the forefront to bridge food supply deficiency

There are two ways to react to a crisis, either lie down low or let the storm pass and then pick the remains to begin a new life, or brave up to the storm and steer the boat and sail to new horizons. Well,  it seems that from amongst the scores of Farmers Producers Organizations (FPOs) which have been promoted in the country during last decade through various governmental interventions, quite a large number of FPOs have decided to sail in the storm. The storm being referred to here is the lockdown that has happened all across the country as a follow up of COVID 19 which has brought supply side of the chain to a grinding halt.

Most of the FPOs who
specialize as aggregators of vegetables have stepped on the pedal and have
occupied the space left behind by the retails chains and vendors to supply
vegetables at the doorstep of the consumers. This after all was the ultimate
objective of promotion of FPOs- to encourage the farmer members to step in the
market and sell their produce on their own which is a product of sweat and
blood on their own to the end consumers.By stepping into the arena, which
otherwise was dominated by the commission agents, farmers are also learning the
marketing nuances and value proposition of the product pricing.

FPOs have been facilitated
by 3 step policy pronouncement by the government through e-NAM that includes:

1.  FPO Module whereby
the FPOs can upload picture and quality parameters of their produce at their
own collection center and avail bidding facility without bringing produce to
APMCs. Produce can be delivered from their collection center to the respective
end consumers. 

2.
Warehouse Module
: farmers storing their produce in WDRA registered
warehouses (declared as deemed market by State) can sell their produce through
eNAM from the warehouse.   

3. Logistic
module
: linking large aggregators’to a logistic platform,whereby trader can
avail trucking facility of their choice from variety of options. This will
strengthen inter-state and inter-mandi trade on eNAM.

FPOs are also ensuring price stabilization by
announcing the price of the produce a day before the supply date to the
consumers and the experimentation that was initiated in Kothrud in Pune is
being followed by other FPOs in different parts of the country. Whatsapp groups
have been created between the resident associations and FPO suppliers which
ensures proper delivery at the doorstep of the consumer without stepping out
and violating the lockdown.

Fatehabad district in
Harayana has gone one step ahead to ground this initiative and has come out
with detailed list of FPOs supplying vegetables.  This is a monumental step forward for App
aggregators to have an exhaustive list of all the FPOs working in a district
and integrate with them to facilitate smart optimization of the whole value
chain through cutting edge of technology focusing on the aggregation of demand
as the farmers have taken the initiative to understand demand. Their efforts
need consolidation and it can only be provided by the startups which are focusing
on agriculture.

For sure, the middleman
who was the sole purchaser of agri-produce, especially vegetables would have a
nightmare once the lockup lifts as the farmers through FPOs have now get an
assured clientele. FPOs are also being facilitated by the
academic institutions like ICAR-IIHR, Bengaluru, who understanding the logistic
stumbling block that the farmers are facing have taken the step forward to
provide free technical support and share the protocols to all the FPOs for
processing of their produce. The whole idea of this initiative on the part of
the institute is to encourage the FPOs to use this opportunity to adopt food
processing in a big way for obtaining a competitive advantage as also obtain
higher shelf life for their products- icing on the cake being backed by
technology of a reputed institute that would provide a unique USP for the produce.
Lab to field initiative of this kind is one of the first time initiatives.

This lock down has also underscored for FPOs
like Terai Fresh in Pilibhit-UP and Khushal Vegetable Growers Association in
Ludhiana to gain foothold in local market. Both these FPOs have started
supplying locally and have found out that there margins have increased as they
are selling it locally without incurring any logistic cost. Same is the
experience of Puthari FPO in Coorg, which has been further facilitated by the
Panchayat by providing them selling space free of cost in Panchayat premises.

Dr. Harminder Singh, who is the President of
Khushal FPO, Ludhiana informs that earlier they were selling their vegetables
through an outlet in PAU (Punjab Agriculture University) Ludhiana and had
created a brand equity of selling organic vegetables. Now that the villagers
from their own villages have started buying from them, the members of the FPOs
feel redeemed as they are helping their brethren indirectly to graduate to
organic vegetables and thereby facilitating in increasing their health
quotient.

This indeed is a positive step forward that
FPOs have taken and now they are looking towards technology aggregators to hand
hold them and help them organize their produce business in much structured
manner.

Nalin

2 comments

  1. Aftab
    April 19, 2020 at 3:11 pm

    best articles

  2. vinod goel
    April 30, 2020 at 5:10 pm

    similar efforts by FPOs were made earlier also.Most of these were namesake and didnot make any worthwhile impact,except a few isolated sucess stories. Almost same appears to be the story now in corona lockdown period. In all probability the case studies picked up in the survey appear to be the repetition of the same. Or else,can AGNEXT somehow quantify their turn over as a percentage of total market arrivals of fruits and vegetables during the lockdown in a given market.

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