How collaborative efforts can boost efficiency, prosperity, and sustainability in India’s agricultural sector

Agri enterprise Samunnati conducted the first-of-its-kind Lighthouse FPO Conclave in Hyderabad on June 23-24, 2023, in association with Olam Agri. The two-day conclave on ‘Building a resilient FPO ecosystem’ hosted around 200 lighthouse FPOs from all over India.

Rajarshi Chatterjee

Shubhangi . Mishra

How collaborative efforts can boost efficiency, prosperity, and sustainability in India’s agricultural sector

Friday August 04, 2023,

6 min Read

In the vast and diverse landscape of Indian agriculture, the emergence of Farmers' Producer Organisations (FPOs) has heralded a monumental transformation, reshaping the very essence of the agricultural ecosystem. These collectives of farmers, united by a shared vision, have become the catalysts driving inclusive growth and empowerment among smallholder farmers - a true game changer for Indian agriculture.

Yet, the road to success for FPOs is far from smooth, and only a select few manage to overcome the hurdles and achieve commercial profitability. With numerous challenges like lack of access to credit and infrastructures, it’s all the more crucial to showcase successful experiences, innovative approaches, and learnings from thriving FPOs. By sharing ideas and strategies, these successful FPOs can inspire and guide thousands of aspiring farmer collectives, empowering them to emulate similar models of success.

Recognizing this, India's leading agri enterprise, Samunnati hosted the first-of-its-kind conclave that brought together more than 180 top-performing FPOs from all over India, key agricultural representatives, government stakeholders and thought leaders under one roof to facilitate knowledge exchange, showcase inspiring success stories, and foster innovation among FPOs.

Themed ‘Building a resilient FPO ecosystem’, Samunnati Lighthouse FPO Conclave 2023, in association with Olam Agri, was held on June 23-24, 2023. The conclave, which will now be an annual event, was held on Samunnati’s Foundation Day. Spanning two days, the event featured carefully curated panel discussions, keynote speeches from marquee speakers and a special recognition ceremony where 28 top-performing FPOs were felicitated and recognized for their groundbreaking work.

Unlocking Indian agriculture’s trillion-dollar-plus potential

The conclave began with an interactive presentation by Anilkumar SG, Founder and CEO, Samunnati, who highlighted the company’s holistic solutions for farmers through collectives, which include finance, advisory, technology, and convergence of schemes.

Serving the entire value chain, Samunnati’s Agri Commerce and Agri Finance solutions enable affiliated Farmer Collectives and the larger ecosystem to be more efficient and productive through multiple technology-enabled interventions and collaborative partnerships.

India's Farmer Producer Organisations are vital to changing the lives of smallholder farmers and unlocking the economy's trillion-dollar potential as India's largest agri value chain enabler,he said.

During the official release of NAFPO’s State of the Sector Report – Farmer Producer Organisations in India, Kumar added, All of us need to proliferate this report, make it known to all policymakers in terms of where we are in the sector so that all of us can foster the development of the sector.

Day 1 also saw two interesting panel discussions: Addressing the ‘access to finance’ paradox and Opening FPO mindset to AgTech Innovations.

Summing up the panel discussion on ‘Addressing the access to finance paradox, Jyotsna Krishnan, Managing Partner, Elevar, said, Corporates and institutions should try to see and understand ground realities, even if it means partnering with more grounded institutions. Because very often we see that people try doing business with FPOs, then something doesn't go as per the plan and they completely withdraw. I think there is no doubt about the opportunity on the ground.

She further added that it should be ensured that both sides understand foundational issues and establish trust.

Overcome challenges and sell beyond boundaries

Along with the panel discussions on the first day, the conclave also had a few prominent leaders give keynote addresses on crucial topics. Among them was N Muthukumar, Group CFO and CEO, Operations, at Olam Agri India.

I'm very proud to see that we are embarked on this very important journey to address the food security issue that has become the central issue for most countries, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, which resulted in massive supply chain disruptions in terms of moving food and agricultural products across the world. Every country, including India, has been having trade barriers to ensure that the domestic consumption of food and agricultural products is available for the local population,Muthukumar said.

Improve transparency and enable open trade

Dr Shireesh Joshi, Chief Business Officer, ONDC, gave a keynote address on ‘Future of Market Access’. He said, I see a lot of investment, innovation, energy and excitement going into the supply side of the agriculture sector. What about the demand side? Once you have produced what you have to produce, once you have grown what you have to grow, how do you sell it? That is the problem that ONDC is trying to solve.ONDC is bringing all stakeholders in a unified open network where anyone can connect with anyone, without any boundaries, to solve this.

Highlighting the importance of digitisation of a business, Joshi said, You get access to a larger market, you become more competitive, innovative, and efficient.

Secure commodity prices and mitigate agricultural loss

Discussing the potential of doubling farmers’ income through agricultural trading, Arun Raste, Managing Director and CEO at NCDEX, explained how farmers can minimise risk by considering the put option in agricultural trading.

Farmers can lock the price of an agricultural product at their desired wish and mitigate the loss, by paying 5% of that desired price. However, if they get a chance to sell the produce at a higher price, they are free to do so. But, the derivative market will pay the desired price, in case overall market value goes below the desired price.

While the first day of the Lighthouse FPO Conclave 2023 was packed with discussions, the highlight of the second day was a visit by Singireddy Niranjan Reddy Garu, Minister of Agriculture, Telangana.

The minister shed light on the various challenges that farmers face and how they can overcome them. He spoke about how India can emerge as one of the world’s biggest agri-industries and potentially be ‘feeder to the entire world’. Later on, farmers at the event also got the opportunity to have a direct one-on-one interaction with Reddy Garu.

Along with this, on Day 2, panel discussions on extremely crucial topics - Access to markets – opportunities & new developments and Climate-smart practices & regenerative agriculture - were conducted. The two-day conclave was truly one of its kind where FPOs showcased their inspiring stories, learnt from many experts, and fostered innovation.