Agri Business

‘Agro-processing offers challenges and opportunities for co-op sector’

AJ Vinayak | Updated on February 19, 2020 Published on February 19, 2020

Representational image only   -  THE HINDU

Urging the cooperative sector to take the lead in developing agro-processing opportunities in the country, Satish Marathe, Director of the Reserve Bank of India and member of Sahakar Bharathi, has said decent incomes and livelihood to the rural population could be provided by concentrating on processing of agri produces.

Speaking at a conference on ‘Indian economy in transition: Prospects and challenges of cooperatives’, organised by University College in Mangaluru on Wednesday, he said the food demand will double by 2030 as the world’s population increases by two billion people then.

“There is an urgent need for India to increase the output of food. The solution lies in encouraging formation of farmers’ cooperatives to improve productivity, processing of agricultural produces and to provide access to markets,” he said.

Need for policy support

Stating that farmers’ cooperatives should focus on agro-processing to reach their full potential, he said cooperatives would need both finance and technical support in the initial years. These areas should be attended to by suitable legislative and policy support. The cooperatives also need assistance to improve the quality of their produce for export, Marathe said.

Now agro-processing is limited to a few crops such as sugarcane, cotton and to some extent oil seeds. Other agricultural produces are not being processed.

“Since we do not process, we are not increasing the shelf-life of those produces,” he said, adding that farmers would benefit from higher realisation when agricultural produces are processed.

Unless the country processes, creates jobs and earning opportunities through agro-processing initiatives, it will be facing a real tough challenge, Marathe said.

With a view to achieving rapid development and social harmony, the country should promote new models of cooperatives in services and in agro-processing sectors, he said.

As the world faces unstable financial systems, insecurity of food supply, and increased environmental degradation, the cooperative sector, especially in India, presents itself as an important tool to realise the sustainable development goals, Marathe said.

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Published on February 19, 2020
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