Farmers belonging to Dharmapuri Precision Farmers Agro Services Ltd, a company they set up to better market their produce, are proposing to set up their own cold-storage facilities instead of depending on government agencies, so that they can keep their produce fresh for a longer time and negotiate better prices.
Around 200 farmers belonging to the Dharmapuri district of Tamil Nadu, a seven-hour-drive from Chennai, have decided to create a farmers’ market with each contributing Rs20,000. The market will have cold storage and sorting facilities and common infrastructure such as transport.
Mint first wrote about the formation of the company on 29 March.
“We are struggling with the marketing,” said C. Bhupathy, secretary of Dharmapuri Precision. “The farmer market will help to reduce the price fluctuations.”
The move will help farmers to tide over fluctuations in market prices of agricultural produce. Lack of cold-storage facilities forces farmers to sell perishable fruit and vegetables at a very low rate when there is over-supply, often at a loss. On the other hand, when there is less supply, farmers are able to charge a premium.
Leading retailers ranging from Reliance Industries Ltd to Bharti-Wal Mart, will have the ability to negotiate lower prices for the produce because farmers do not have the storage to keep perishables for longer, said Bhupathy. About 40% of fresh produce in India is wasted annually due to a lack of storage facilities.
The ability to cold-store the produce, for up to 45 days, will help the farmers realize better prices with large retailers, said Bhupathi.
The farmers are planning to propose to the state government that they be allotted four acres of land to establish the farmers’ market at an estimated cost of Rs1 crore. About 200 farmers will contribute to 40% of the project cost, with banks funding the rest.
The farmers are part of a three-year, state-funded precision farming project, with 400 farmers pooling one hectare each for the programme. Farmers in Dharmapuri district formed Dharmapuri Precision, a jointly held company, by contributing Rs10,000 each.