‘It is better for farmers to enter the market as a group rather than individuals’

Noted economist Abdul Aziz believes that setting up farmers’ organisations on the lines of the Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FKCCI) will empower them to bargain for better prices for their produce and beat middlemen.

“There is a dire need to float crop-based organisations of farmers to increase farmers’ bargaining power in the market. It is always better for farmers to enter the market as part of a group rather than individually. This could be an organisation of groundnut growers or tur dal growers or areca growers. The basic idea is to organise farmers on the basis of the crops being grown by them,” Prof. Aziz told The Hindu.

But these organisations should not be cooperative unions as that would involve a lot of formalities such as registration process, besides paving the way for government as well as political interference. Instead, they should be general bodies of farmers completely managed by farmers themselves.

“Ideally, farmers themselves should form such organisations. But as it would amount to expecting too much from them, I suggest that NGOs with good track record and some concerned individuals and university teachers lend a helping hand.”

He suggests that the government link the produce of the growers’ organisations with the facilities for processing and value addition to get better prices. Similarly, growers’ organisations should insist that government start an industry that makes use of the produce or take up value addition and processing. “We need such organisations if you want to prevent the recurrence of unfortunate incidents like farmers from Kolar dumping their tomato produce on Bangalore roads in despair following crash in prices.” Prof. Aziz stressed the need to create awareness among farmers through Information and Communication Technology (ICT) on not only the price situation but also about the possibility of exploitation by middlemen. Forming such farmers’ groups and price awareness would go a long way in helping farmers to get remunerative prices.

He also moots the concept of forming similar organisations to promote non-farming activities in rural areas. “This should include rural artisans such as potters, weavers and the like to explore better markets as well as remunerative prices for their products.”

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