Uttar Pradesh (UP) is all set to create a dedicated body, on the lines of Udyog Bandhu, to assist enterprising farmer producer organisations (FPOs) in investing in projects for post-harvest infrastructure management and community farming assets with the help of the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund (AIF) that the Centre had announced in August, sources revealed.
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The UP cabinet is likely to clear the FPOs policy, 2020 soon in the wake of the Central government’s decision to form 10,000 such units in the country by 2023-24.
The Central government plans to make Rs 1 lakh crore AIF available to banks that will finance these projects.
“The proposed policy seeks creation of an Udyog Bandhu-like dedicated agency for FPOs,” sources disclosed.
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“The new body will be headed by an official to be designated as the chief executive officer (CEO), who will be assisted by officials to be drawn from other departments such as agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry, dairy development on deputation,” they added.
The proposed policy also makes it mandatory for all government departments to chalk out action plans that are aligned to FPOs.
“All government departments will incorporate in their action plans the measures that benefit FPOs,” sources said.
“For example, the dairy development department will have to inform how many milk production committees are to be formed involving FPOs,” they added.
The UP government will also coordinate with the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) to help FPOs get loans from banks either as working capital or to set up food processing units, cold stores, branding and packaging units, warehouses among others. Each FPO will be entitled to a maximum loan of Rs 2 crore.
The FPOs can operate at district, state and national level for the product identified as per their requirement of processing, branding and marketing. One district, one product policy will get a thrust under this initiative.
Devesh Chaturvedi, additional chief secretary (ACS), agriculture, UP, said that the FPOs Policy, 2020 would be sent to the state cabinet for its approval soon. “We have already made a presentation of the policy before chief minister Yogi Adityanath. Now, it will be sent for the cabinet’s approval,” he said.
Chaturvedi said the policy would be a game-changer for the rural economy.
An FPO, formed by a group of farm producers, is a registered body with producers as shareholders of the organisation. It deals with business activities connected to farm produce and operates for the benefit of member producers.
“UP aims to set up 1,000 FPOs. Each block will have a FPO, comprising between 300 and 500 farmers,” sources said.
The aspiring districts would get a priority in the formation of FPOs under the new policy, they added.