Mumbai, December, 2018.

Over 49 companies including Tata Group, Amazon, ITC, Patanjali among others entered a memorandum of understanding with the Maharashtra government’s project ‘State of Maharashtra’s Agribusiness and Rural Transformation (SMART)’ assisted by World Bank to revamp the agricultural value chain and improve the price realization for the farmer. The Government of Maharashtra is committed to support the development of inclusive and competitive agriculture value chain and has pioneered the Public Private Partnerships for Integrated Agricultural Development (PPIAD).

Project SMART entails an investment of Rs. 2,000 crore of which World Bank contributed Rs. 1500 crore while state government contributed and the rest Rs. 430 crore and the rest Rs 70 crore through VSTF (Village Social Transformation Foundation) through its partners. This intervention is in addition to VSTF’s intervention across the state through corporate social responsibility to transform villages into model village. VSTF signed MOU’s with 22 corporates and start-ups to focus on increasing farm productivity and higher price realizations for farmers by ensuring direct tie-up with end buyers. SMART project would also entail creation of all support and physical infrastructure that would be required by Community Based Organizations (CBO)s.

The event symbolized the spirit of productive partnership and the soft launch was in the presence of Industry leaders like Shri Ratan Tata, Shri KrishIyer, CEO, Walmart India, Future Group, Promoter-Shri. Kishore Biyani, HDFC Chairman Shri. Deepak Parekh to name a few.

Present for this launch were CBO’s, Mr. Vilas Shinde, Director, Sahyadri Farms representing farmers community, Shri Yogesh Thorat, MD, Maharashtra Farmers Producers Company, Smt. Manisha Dhatrak, Managing Director, Varun Agro Processing Foods Pvt. Ltd. Also, present were Primary Agricultural Credit Society’s (PACS) and around 50 to 60 women from various Self-Help Groups.

Appreciating World Bank for supporting and funding the project, Honourable Chief Minister, Shri Devendra Fadnavis said, “With higher farm productivity through Jalyukt Shivar despite lower rainfall, ensuring price realisation is paramount. This initiative will be an ideal conduit between a chain of empowered farmers in the form of producer companies, self-help groups with direct access to the large retailers by eliminating the intermediaries and will lead to transformation in agriculture. This will not only ensure that agriculture is profitable, but also sustainable over the next 6 years across 10,000 villages with 3 lakh people being skilled for this emerging agri-business.”

Commenting on the initiative, World Bank Country Director, Mr. Junaid Ahmed said, “At the outset, let me express that World Bank wants to work together with farmers and self-help groups. I must also appreciate Government of Maharashtra’s initiative to move from production-based agriculture to market-based agriculture that is resilient. As economy develops and urbanisation rises, no one should be left behind, and agriculture has to evolve. Maharashtra is leading innovate approach for agribusiness by introducing market driven approach.”

Maharashtra state rural livelihood mission, Project on Climate Resilient Agriculture (PoCRA) and Primary Cooperatives Societies will be among the agencies to design and implement the project.

The conference deliberated deeply on all concerns faced by the farmers and expressed confidence that the proposed investment and eco-system created through the MOUs for all stakeholders including farmer producing companies and cluster-based organization. This initiative would facilitate agri-infrastructure like cooling, harmonization and packaging along with backward and forward linkages to enable seamless market access for the farm produce.