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Amazon among 49 firms inking MoU with Maharashtra govt’s SMART project
Thursday, 06 December, 2018, 13 : 00 PM [IST]
Our Bureau, Mumbai
Over 49 companies, including Tata Group, Amazon, ITC, Patanjali, Reliance Retail, Walmart, Big Basket, Mahindra Agro, among others, inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Government of Maharashtra’s project, State of Maharashtra’s Agribusiness and Rural Transformation (SMART), assisted by World Bank to revamp the agricultural value chain and improve the price realisation for farmers at an event which took place in Mumbai recently.

The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) was the industry partner for this important initiative. Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis launched the SMART logo and website in the presence of community-based organisations (CBOs); Vilas Shinde, director, Sahyadri Farms (representing the farmer community); Yogesh Thorat, managing director, Maharashtra Farmers Producers’ Company; Manisha Dhatrak, managing director, Varun Agro Processing Foods Pvt Ltd, primary agricultural credit societies (PACS) and about 50-60 women from various self-help groups (SHGs).

Appreciating World Bank for supporting and funding the project, Fadnavis said, “With higher farm productivity through Jalyukt Shivar despite lower rainfall, ensuring price realisation is paramount. This initiative will be an ideal conduit between a chain of empowered farmers in the form of producer companies and SHGs with direct access to the large retailers by eliminating the intermediaries and will lead to transformation in agriculture. This will not only ensure that agriculture is profitable, but also sustainable over the next six years across 10,000 villages, with three lakh people being skilled for this emerging agri-business.”

He added, “The big companies can now be assured of getting quality food at a good price. Even though there are around 2,000 farmer producer organisations (FPOs) in the state, on ground only 200 to 400 are operational. Farmers are getting confident about their produce and its quality. and we should take the advantage and bring transformation in the agriculture.”

Junaid Ahmed, country director, World Bank, said, “World Bank wants to work together with farmers and SHGs. The government of Maharashtra’s initiative to move from production-based agriculture to market-based agriculture should be appreciated. As the economy develops and urbanisation rises, no one should be left behind, and agriculture has to evolve. Maharashtra is leading the innovative approach for agri-business by introducing a market-driven approach.”

Project SMART entails an investment of Rs 2,000 crore, of which World Bank contributed Rs 1,500 crore, while the state government contributed Rs 430 crore and Rs 70 crore was contributed by VSTF (Village Social Transformation Foundation) through its partners.

This intervention is in addition to VSTF’s interventions across the state through corporate social responsibility (CSR) to transform villages into model villages.

VSTF signed MOUs with 22 corporates and start-ups to focus on increasing farm productivity and higher price realisations for farmers by ensuring direct tie-up with end buyers. The SMART project would also entail the creation of all support and physical infrastructure that would be required by CBOs. This project will help support value addition in post-harvest segments of value chains, facilitate enterprise promotion and business investment for CBOs.

The Maharashtra state Rural Livelihood Mission, the Project on Climate Resilient Agriculture (PoCRA) and Primary Cooperative Societies will be among the agencies to design and implement the project.
 
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