India’s first incubation centre focused on promoting efficient Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) or Farmer Producer Companies (FPCs) across the country is expected to become functional from January.
Vilas Shinde, Chairman, Sahyadri Farms, told indoasiancommodities.com that said that the incubation centre will work much on the lines of similar units which are working across the country to create a progressive ecosystem for start-ups.
Nashik-based Sahyadri Farms, one of the leading FPCs in the country, has joined hands with some noted social sector agencies affiliated with Tata Trust to operate this first-of-its-kind centre.
“We are all set to roll it out in early January. Apart from us, the other important stakeholders in the project are – Tata Strive, Digital Impact SQ, Social Alpha and Cini. The Maharastra government is also supporting this initiative,” Shinde said.
Tata Strive is a skill development agency supported by Tata Trusts while Digital Impact SQ is supported by TCS foundation that works in the area of research and innovation.
Social Alpha and Cini are also supported by Tata Trusts with focus on multistage entrepreneurship incubation and rural development respectively.
Sahyadri Farms, formed in 2010, is considered a vibrant signpost of possible transformation FPCs can trigger in the agri-business. Having brought together 8,000 horticulture farmers in and around Nashik, it has emerged as the largest exporter of grapes from the country.
The country’s first incubation center will focus on supporting agencies which are in the horticulture business.
“This incubation center will primarily focus to support the FPCs which are in the fruits and vegetable business. They could be newly formed or those which are in business for the last three-four years. Screening process has begun and for the first batch, we will pick up 15 FPCs,” Shinde said.
“In the first batch, we are expecting to have FPCs primarily from the horticulture belts of Maharastra, Telangana and Madhya Pradesh. After the first year, we will further expand our ambit both in terms of adding more players to a batch and panning out to other regions in the country for selecting FPCs to be supported,” he added.
India has over 7,000 registered FPOs and the government has announced facilitating setting up of another 10,000 units in the next five years expecting them to play a pivotal role in the transformation of the agriculture sector after the recent initiation of big-bang farm reforms.
However, the track record of FPOs in terms of making a major difference to the agriculture business has not been too encouraging till so far. Barring a few successful examples like Sahyadri, there aren’t too many signposts of major success in the country.
Analysts point at a host of bottlenecks which are holding them back which include lack of capital, market access, leadership as well as technological support and expertise.
“Our incubation centre would tend to help the promising agencies to deftly deal with these gaps. The FPCs selected by us will be supported for three years and the larger incubation programme will include both physical and virtual training modules. We will also help them with business plans,” Shinde informed.