(GIST OF KURUKSHETRA) Strengthening Human Resources in Agri-supply Chain
Strengthening Human Resources in Agri-supply Chain
Agri-supply chains are economic systems which distribute benefits and apportion risks among participants. Supply chains also ensure that farmers have real time access to market information and technology, which are critical components lor improving the services.
Other benefits of an efficient supply chain include environmental development, more employment opportunities and significant decline in product losses which in turn resolves the inherent issues in the agricultural sector.
National Agriculture Market:
The government has already taken several initiatives at national level in the recent past. An initiative in this direction, the National Agriculture Market (e-NAM) a pan India unified electronic portal has been set up where farmers can directly sell their produce. It connects all the markets formed under the Agriculture Produce Committee (APMC). Presently 585 markets are being connected to this portal.
Traditionally, farmers sold their products through the physical Mandis or Bazar Committees which were highly incompetent and levied a number of duties on their products. Under e-NAM, there is only one license for each State and duty is levied only on one point. Prices are decided through electronic auction.
It is now facilitating the conversion of the whole state to one market. The farmers are directly exposed to the markets and available prices. They can finalise the price and then sell their produce. This system is more transparent and has facilitated farmers to get better prices for their agro product.
Recently, a whole new eco-system with a host of novel features has been introduced to the agricultural sector of the country:
Digital and analytics— This is poised to play a critical role in building India’s farms of the future:
Precision farming including integrating field data, weather patterns to drive agronomic advice to farmers, and yield forecasting.
Efficient farm lending with electronic applications, disbursal of loans, insurance payouts linked to weather, field data, Direct Benefits Transfer in agriculture.
Centralised platform integrating farmers and wholesale market, to provide timely information for price realisation.
IoT-based advanced analytics in manufacturing plants to improve availability, throughput and save costs.
Financing and crop insurance — can help in strengthening the ecosystem.
Provide innovative financing models to farmers through partnerships with manufacturers, weather forecast agencies, and digital partners.
Offer easy financing for Farmer-producer organisations (FPOs) for community infrastructure for storage and transportation.
Create digital ecosystems for financing and crop insurance.
Establishing market linkages between farmers and buyers — This will establish transparency in pricing and better value, especially for perishable products. It could also help to increase farmer incomes by at least 8 to 10 percent.
Investing in cold-storage — Despite current challenges, this segment is expected to enjoy significant growth on the back of rising food demand, supply deficits, and improved market economics. The cold chain market is expected to double in size to reach $7 billion to $9 billion by the end of 2020. Cold chain players could invest in alternate energy technologies like solar powered systems, they can explore chemical treatments to extend the shelf-life of produce, set up pack houses, and reefer transport. They could also optimise the use of existing facilities by opening them up for multiple crops instead of a single crop or product.
Invest in fruits and vegetables and pulses to meet demand: These investments could unlock around S15 billion to $20 billion by 2025 and boost farmer income by 35 percent. With demand concentrated in six crops — mango, tomato, potato, pomegranate, onion, and grapes by 2025, these crops will account for around 65 percent of the incremental produce value, through a combination of exports and food processing. In pulses, the demand will be driven by a need for packaged and branded pulses, fortified pulses, and the market for ready-to-eat snacks, which is growing at 20 percent Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR).
Need for a Specialised Agri Education:
Archeo-botanical evidence unearthed during excavations have revealed the evidence of a full blown agricultural practice way back in 10,000 BCE.
There was a sizable economic and technological development during the Neolithic phase which coincided with a revolution in agriculture. This age brought major changes in economic and technological developments that included cultivation of rice, banana, yam sequencing in eastern India and the cultivation of millets and pulses in South India. Excavations in Kalibangan in Western Rajasthan reveal ploughed fields where mostly rainy season crops were grown. Wheeled carts were commonly used in the Indus valley and river boats were used to carry grains. Benefits of crop rotation were appreciated.
It must be kept in mind that Indian agriculture is dominated by innumerable small farms which are highly dispersed and unorganised. Since the nature of agricultural produce is highly perishable and erratic in supply because of its seasonality and other stresses, it calls for innovative supply chain management (SCM) to address these issues.
Through the application of SCM in different sectors of agriculture will help throw innovative ideas to define the shape of future agriculture in the country. Additionally, there is surely a need to step up higher education in agriculture and increase the quantum of research on the agri-supply chain simply because of its critical relevance to food security, availability and safety.
An efficient agri-supply chain has the potential of not only increasing the equity of enablers in the chain but also incentivise farmers to produce more with quality and cater to the changing wants and preferences of consumers.