The Walmart Foundation and International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid-Tropics (ICRISAT) have launched a Secondary Processing Unit (SPU) at Muddalapuram village, Anantapur district, Andhra Pradesh. 

The unit will support farmers from the district with new livelihood and market access opportunities through value-added groundnut, millet, and other nutritious products.

The facility was inaugurated on Wednesday by the Minister for Agriculture & Cooperation, Marketing, Food Processing, Government of Andhra Pradesh Kakani Govardhan Reddy.

ICRISAT has been working along with its project implementation partner, Accion Fraterna Ecology Centre (AFEC), to accelerate Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) and smallholder member-farmers benefits, through interventions at various levels in the agricultural value chain. 

The SPU is expected to benefit over 6,000 smallholder farmers in Anantapur district. The facility, which has a built-up area of 1,000 square metres, is operated by women-led Rythu Nestham Food Producer Company Ltd (RNFPCL). 

RNFPCL was established with support from ICRISAT and AFEC and formed by including farmers from nine FPOs across the eight mandals of Anantapur district. 

The facility is equipped with five processing lines, which will produce highly nutritious millet and pulse based ready-to-cook and ready-to-eat formulations such as traditional khichdi and upma mixes, high oleic groundnut products - nutrition bars (chikki), cookies, snacks and savouries, and healthy cold pressed groundnut oil.

Walmart Foundation has a `long-term commitment’ to support FPO’s capacity building and farmer livelihoods by enhancing yields which is achieved through improved farm practices, formal markets linkages, and overall support for FPOs in their sustainability journeys. The grant to ICRISAT aligns with this mission and focus.

Julie Gehrki, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Walmart Foundation, said: “Walmart Foundation’s grant to ICRISAT aims to better support farmers’ incomes while strengthening and diversifying the services of Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) to deliver benefits to their members.”

Jaqueline d’Arros Hughes, Director General, ICRISAT said his institute was `helping’ small-holder farming communities in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh to adopt sustainable farming practices, according to a release.