THE SYMPOSIUM on agri-export zone organised by Agriculture Department and district administration at Fortune Landmark hotel on Saturday explored ways to develop farming institutional model and build a sustainable chain from collecting the farm produce from the primary growers to exporting it with public private partnership so that agriculture could become a profitable profession.
This, according to organisers, would form basis to operate five Agriculture Export Zones in the State. While making suggestions, farmers, exporters and industrialists at the symposium demanded concessions in Mandi tax and government subsidy to help them stay in international export market. They complained about the dilapidated state of roads that add on to their transit time and transportation cost.
Demanding direct flights from Indore to UAE and Europe to export flowers, fruit and vegetables, they held that it was important to have a separate marketing strategy for perishable goods and for cereals.
The other weaknesses identified during deliberations included shortage of standard breeder seeds of different varieties, uncompetitive freight rates, lack of good packaging, cold storage, air cargo, pre-cooling facilities and non-issuance of required certificates on Internet. Above all, they expressed the need for a proper agro-export policy.
“It’s important to create collection centres where farmers can send their produce and get good prices, something that Dabur India Limited has done,” vanilla grower B Tongya insisted and added that fruit cultivation needs to be more organised.
Industrialist Girish Matlani said that farmers need exposure to international marketing trends while Indore Krishi Upaj Mandi president Someshwar Patel demanded shifting Chhavani Grain Mandi to Indore bypass.
Sameer Mankad, managing director of a Gujarat firm, said multiple handling of perishables cause biological injuries and this could be avoided if instead of being taken to Mandis they are brought to grading and packaging houses that could be set up at airport. Arun Dike, whose company at Rau manufactures bio-fertiliser and bio-pesticides, informed that he intends to train farmers and government officials on organic farming.
During the course of discussions, District Collector Vivek Aggarwal informed that air cargo facilities would start from Indore airport next month. He said that Malwa Organic Farmer and Exporters Organisation would be constituted shortly and that would strengthen farmer-trader relationship, transfer technology from laboratory to fields, provide relevant information, build a database of farmers and their produce and contact international buyers for their produce.
He, however, demanded budgetary support and mandate from the State Government to improve infrastructure facilities, especially roads.
State Agriculture Secretary Pravesh Sharma informed that his department has proposed amendment in Mandi Act that would reform marketing environment. Others who addressed the symposium included MP Agricultural Marketing Board Managing Director M A Khan and MP Agro Industries Development Corporation Managing Director J N Kansotia.