The farmers in the state will soon enter the competitive world of agricultural growth and marketing of their agro products.
The six-year ultra-modern project to be implemented in association with the World Bank will launch the scheme this kharif season that begins in June-July.
The Rs 650-crore Maharas-htra Agriculture Competitiveness Project is based on recommendations of the World Bank. Apart from agriculture and marketing, related sectors like animal husbandry, dairy development and fisheries have been included in the scheme for 33 districts.
Other than providing the know-how, the World Bank will loan the state Rs 415 crore — half of which is interest free — for implementing the project.
The government will give Rs 64 crore while beneficiaries such as local market committees and self-governments will invest the remaining capital.
“Our farmers have a good produce but they have no marketing skills,” Nanasaheb Patil, principal secretary (Agriculture) told Hindustan Times.
“The scheme which will be implemented jointly by the Agriculture and Cooperative and Marketing Departments will help farmers keep markets in their minds while taking any particular crop,” Patil added.
A top official, requesting anonymity as he not authorised to speak to the media, said the project will assist farmers in the suicide belt of Vidarbha where efforts were already on to supplement agriculture with allied businesses like animal husbandry and dairy development.
“When agriculture is no longer viable, allied businesses prove to be of great help to distressed families,” he said.
A huge amount has been earmarked for modernising 70 market committees and improving weekly bazaars where farmers bring their produce for direct sale.