The Centre has allowed five private firms to undertake cluster farming of specific horticulture crops in about 50,000 hectares on a pilot basis entailing an investment of Rs 750 crore, including government subsidy — a moved aimed at making Indian produce globally competitive and boost farmers’ income.
Desai Agrifoods, FIL Industries, Sahyadri Farms, Meghalaya Basin Management Agency, and Prasad Seeds are five companies selected for pilot cluster farming through a bidding process.
The Centre will give financial assistance up to Rs 100 crore depending on the size of the project under the recently launched central scheme Cluster Development Programme (CDP), which is implemented by the National Horticulture Board with an outlay of Rs 2,200 crore.
Priya Ranjan, Joint Secretary in the Agriculture Ministry, said, the cluster-based approach has seen an incredible amount of success across the world. In India, the government for the first time is encouraging market-led development of entire value chain of specific horticulture crops by giving financial assistance.
“These five companies are spread across an area of almost 50,000 hectares and cover around 55,000 farmers. The investment within these clusters is about Rs 750 crores,” he said.
For instance, Desai Agrifoods’s Rs 103 crore ‘banana cluster” project will be developed in Ananthapura, Andhra Pradesh, Sahyadri Farms’ Rs 205 crore ‘grapes cluster’ project will come up in Nasik, Maharashtra, while Meghalaya Basin Management Agency’s Rs 52 crore ‘turmeric cluster’ project will be developed in West Jaintia Hills, he said.
FIL Industries will develop an ‘apple cluster’ in Shopian, Jammu and Kashmir, while Prasad Seeds will develop a ‘mango cluster’ in Mahabubnagar, Telangana, he added.
Banana, apple, grapes, turmeric and mango are the main crops that these companies will focus on. The timeline for completion and operationalisation of the project will be four years.
The government aims to develop 55 different clusters identified across the nation, each with its specific crop. Initially, the pilot will be in 12 clusters with seven focussed crops on a pilot basis.
Under the CDP, financial assistance of up to Rs 25 crore will be given for mini clusters of more than 5,000 hectares, up to Rs 50 crore for mid clusters between 5,000-10,000 hectares and up to Rs 100 crore for mega clusters of above 15,000 hectares.
The implementing agencies of cluster farming are selected through a bidding process for different verticals: pre-production and production; post-harvest management and value addition; and logistics, marketing and branding.
In addition to private companies, farmer producer organisations (FPOs), farmer producer companies (FPCs), federations, cooperatives, societies, partnership firms, proprietorship firms, state agriculture and marketing boards and other public sector entities are eligible for becoming implementing agencies.
The main objective of DCP is to provide ease of access to farmers for clean, good-quality planting material. The provision of these planting materials will enhance the quality of produce at the farm level and will allow farmers to reap the benefits of exporting their crops as well. This will be possible due to the alignment of crop production with international standards.