Maharashtra, the third largest state in India and the second largest producer of cotton has not only pioneered in the agro produce sector, but also creating a foothold in the agro marketing arena by leveraging technology, writes Sreetama Datta Roy of Elets News Network.
Maharashtra, the commercial capital of the country is not only a pioneer in the finance sector, but also kept a strong foot forward in the technological innovation for procurement purpose as well. With an annual addition of Rs 7,500 crore in the state’s economy, Agriculture is the major contributor in the growth of primary sector.
Major Agro Produces of Maharashtra
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the principle crops grown in the state are rice, jowar, bajara, wheat, tur, mung, urad, gram and other pulses. The state is major producer of oilseeds. Groundnut, sunflower, soybean are major oil seed crops. Important cash crops grown are cotton, sugarcane, turmeric and vegetables. The state has an area of 10.91 lakh hectares under various fruit crops like mango, banana, orange, grape and cashew nuts etc.
Maharashtra is the second largest producers of cotton with 22.21 percent of the total produce in India.
Nawin Sona Natesan, Secretary to Government of Maharashtra and Managing Director, Maharashtra State Cotton Growers’ Marketing Federation Ltd. Mumbai says, “Maharashtra produces close to 88 lakh bales of Cotton per annum, out of the 340 lakh bales p.a. of India. The state has an area cover of 39 lakh h.a for Cotton cultivation.”
With an objective to coordinate the market functioning of market committees, the Maharashtra State Agricultural Marketing Board was set up in 1984. The Board is instrumental in the state level planning of the development of the agricultural produce markets.
Export Scenario of Maharashtra
MSAMB states that the major countries in which the fruits, vegetable and food crops are exported include Europe, USA, South East Asian Countries, Japan, and Middle East Countries. Some of the major export products are:
Mango: In the last mango season 2018 about 1881 Mts of mangoes have been processed for the purpose of exports to various countries. MSAMB has promoted the partnership organisation of primary co-operative societies named “Mahamango” for export promotion of mangoes.
Grapes: The MSAMB promoted an organisation called MAHAGRAPES to boost the export of grapes. MAHAGRAPES is regularly exporting around 100 -120 containers to Europe and Middle East.
Pomegranate: MSAMB has exported 1.85 Mts pomegranates to UAE and there is a rising potential of export of the fruit in the USA as well.
Mandarin: MSAMB has developed a export facility centers at Karnja and Varud Amaravati for Nagpur Mandarins (loose jacket orange) and exported to Sri Lanka and Gulf countries.
Technology deployments and innovations in the Maharashtra Agro Marketing Sector
Maharashtra has taken several initiatives to deploy technology in the agro marketing and procurement processes. Some of the technology deployments are as follows:
- MARKNET Project: MARKNET refers to computerised Agricultural Produced Market Committee (APMC) of the state. “Objectives are to compile market arrivals, prices & dissemination of the same and bring the effectiveness and transparency in the functioning of APMCs, for benefit of the farmers. Computer set with internet facilities has been provided free of cost to 294 Main markets and 66 sub yards,” says MSAMB.
- National Agriculture Market (eNAM): The Government of India has launched the online marketplace, which helps the agrarian community to take part in computerised auction process (e-Auction) at APMCs.
- ERP and MIS: The Enterprise Resource Planning and Management Information System are utilised to compile information and generate summary reports for all procurement and transactions of the Board.
- APMC computer operators are provided an incentive of Rs 1,000 to enter and update data on the MSAMB website under Marketing Research and Information Network Scheme of DMI. “Till date Rs.69.05/- Lakhs incentive has been distributed to computer operators of APMCs,” states MSAMB.
- Statistical information database is maintained for the APMCs and the reports are further sent to the State and Central Governments for creating or updating schemes.
MSAMB has also launched Maharashtra Agricultural Competitiveness Project (MCAP), which is assisted by Word Bank and implemented by Maharashtra State Government in 2010. The objective of the project is to increase the productivity, profitability and market access of the farming community in the State of Maharashtra. Out of the total project cost of Rs 875.35 crore, World Bank share consists of Rs 632.12 crores (72.21 percent), Govt. of Maharashtra share of Rs 70.69crores (8.00 percent) and the remaining share is of beneficiaries i.e. Rs 172.53 crore (19.79 percent).
One of the major aspects of this project is the adoption of computerised auction system to bring more transparency in the system. The APMCs have also brought in operational reforms within themselves by computerised recording of arrivals of agricultural produce in the APMC and also and adopting a uniform accounting system.
Agri-Business Development – a step towards eradicating mediators
In a bid to develop a direct marketing system and get away of the mediators in the process, MSAMB has introduced Agri-Business Development system, a scheme which enables the farmers to improve income and deal directly with the consumers in the online or physical marketplaces.
MSAMB creates a direct link between farmers and consumers by organising fruit and grain festivals. “Through these festivals, consumer get fresh fruits and grains and farmers get 30 to 40 percent higher monitory benefits. These festival can be organized by APMC, Co-operative societies related to agriculture and marketing, different departments of Govt.and Farmer Producer Companies,” MSAMB states.
Role of BIGFAB6 in Mahatashtra Agro Marketing Scenario
Natasen shares the role of the emerging technologies such as BigData, Internet of Things (IoT), Geographic Information System (GIS), Finance & Technology (FinTech), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), and Blockchain, which he named BIGFAB 6, and how it can be leveraged to contribute towards the growth charter of the sector.
He says, “By leveraging each technology for its USP, the sector of Agro Marketing can phase transform from 20th century trade practices into the 21st century of efficient market economy. For e.g. AI systems can be built for grading and sorting, quality assurance ecosystem. High quality visual analytics has been developed for sorting Tea Leaves.”
Further stating possible roles of technologies like IoT and Blockchain, Natesan adds, “The IoT sensors would keep track of fumigation, humidity, pest – also about movement etc. Sensors would trigger events.The quality certificates, inspections and other documentation itself could be on a blockchain.”
Maharashtra, the third largest state of India in epitomises the agro marketing sector and leveraging the technology to not only contribute towards the state’s agricultural vis-avis- economic growth, but also creates a transparent and all inclusive platform to empower the agrarian society.