Minister urges farmers in Karnataka to brand their produce

Agriculture Minister B.C. Patil inaugurating a farmer training programme at CFTRI in Mysuru on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: M.A. SRIRAM

Agriculture Minister B.C. Patil on Tuesday called upon farmers to process and add value to their products before branding and marketing them.

Speaking after the formal launch of a farmer training programme under the Prime Minister’s Formalisation of Micro Food Processing Enterprises at the Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI) here, he said the Agriculture Department, which was hitherto restricting itself to supporting farmers till the harvest of crop, had now come forward to prepare farmers to play a role in the marketing and sale of produce.

He said the objective behind this initiative was to ensure that farmers received the share of profit due to them, which is now taken by middlemen or businessmen.

He cited the example of how a good-sized capsicum grown with the help of inputs from scientists of the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS) in Bengaluru would fetch a farmer only ₹40, while it is sold in the market for ₹80. “Why should a farmer, who spends 120 days to grow the capsicum, get only ₹40 when the people involving in selling it in the market get the same amount in a matter of a few hours?” he asked.

He said the training programme would help farmers maximise their profits. About 500 farmers from different parts of the State are undergoing training at the programme, which will provide them a holistic view of food processing, value addition, and marketing potential of products.

Though the training programme for these 500 farmers will conclude in March, Mr. Patil said he would continue his efforts with the CFTRI to extend the training programme to at least 1,500 farmers over the next year.

The agriculture industry has now come into its own after the COVID-19 lockdown, he said. Though the IT/BT industry was dominant in the last few years, the lockdown has slowed down the sector with the software industry asking employees to work from home and the hardware industry yet to resume full-fledged operations. Meanwhile, the agriculture industry is not only alive and kicking, but its prospects are bright, he said.

Business of agriculture

P. Chandra Shekara, director-general of the National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management, known as MANAGE, Hyderabad, expressed regret that farmers, who form 60% of the country’s population, account for only 16.4% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). “Farmers’ contribution to the GDP will not increase unless agriculture becomes a business,” he said.

Farmers receive only 35% to 40% of the cost of an agriculture product they produce; the rest goes to businessmen. Hence, a farmer can double his income by branding and promoting his own product like a businessman, he said.

A statement said training would be provided to identified farmers from different taluks of the State to promote One District One Product (ODOP) under the broad areas of millets, toor dal, fruits, and vegetables.

The production of horticultural crops in Karnataka is estimated to be 18.7 million tonnes, and tropical fruits such as banana, mango, guava, pineapple, and papaya are among the major ones. There are plenty of opportunities for value addition to these fruits and vegetables as a number of technologies are available for their primary and secondary processing with good market potential, the statement said. Similarly, toor dal, which is produced in the State in the range of 10 to 11 lakh tonnes, also has a good marketing potential and fetches better prices when it is processed.

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Printable version | Apr 11, 2021 12:52:47 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/farmers-in-karnataka-urged-to-brand-their-produce/article33612649.ece

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