Hyderabad, Oct 29 (IANS) Technology-based entrepreneurship and inclusive agribusiness programmes are needed to enable smallholder farmers in Asia prosper, experts said Wednesday at a Farmer Producer Organisation (FPO) Summit, here.
“The FPO approach is an intervention owned, managed and executed by smallholder farmers themselves. We need to scale up and increase the number of FPOs through agribusiness incubators so that we can bring in more stakeholders in making agriculture more sustainable and profitable,” said William Dar, Director General, ICRISAT (International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics) at the summit convened by the Agri-Business Incubation (ABI) programme of ICRISAT for smallholder producers to explore agribusiness opportunities.
“Our mission is to make smallholder farmers in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa prosperous, not just self-sufficient, through our inclusive market-oriented development strategy. That is why we are engaged in promoting an inclusive and technology-based entrepreneurship and agribusiness programme,” stressed Dar.
C.V.R. Rajendran, Chairman and Managing Director of Andhra Bank, who participated in the summit, said: “In India, 35 percent of farmers do not have access to organized credit. With significant movement of rural labour from farm to non-farm activities, labour scarcity has emerged as one of the biggest constraints to agricultural production in the country. Mechanization of agriculture is the only solution to improve farming.”
“FPOs are essential for the empowerment, poverty alleviation and advancement of farmers and the rural poor. The Ministry of Agriculture has declared the year 2014 as the Year of the Farmer Producer Organizations. Through better marketing of agricultural products and bargaining for lower interest rates from the banks, smallholder farmers will be able to expand their employment opportunities and increase their rural incomes,” said Ramakrishnaiah Duvvuri, Team Leader, Management Support Group – Farmer Producer Organizations (MSG-FPO), Small Farmers’ Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC).
At the summit, participants gained a better understanding of the gaps and opportunities for FPOs in agribusiness, initiatives by the government through various schemes, capital and funding schemes, and networking opportunities for FPO developers and funding agencies.
The summit also provided smallholder producers the opportunity to explore agribusiness opportunities in the areas of technology penetration, improving productivity and access to inputs and services, and increasing incomes for a sustainable agriculture-based livelihood.