Workshop on 'Linking Farmers and Agro-based SMEs to Markets' held under Indo-US Agriculture Knowledge Initiative (AKI)

March 18, 2009 New Delhi

National Centre for Agricultural Economics and Policy Research (NCAP) organized a workshop on 'Linking Farmers and Agro-based SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) to Markets' under Indo-US Agricultural Knowledge Initiative during 17-18 March 2009 in New Delhi. The specific objectives of the workshop were to: (i) take stock of R&D in agribusiness and future opportunities in education and human resource development in agribusiness in India and the USA, (ii) identify agribusiness models linking R&D system with farmers and agro-based SMEs in India and the USA; and (iii) develop mechanisms to adapt and upscale the successful models for sustainable growth of agribusiness in India. The workshop was attended by about 100 delegates from India and the USA. The delegates represented agricultural professionals, policy advisors, research managers, corporate leaders and representatives of NGOs.

The workshop was inaugurated by Shri A K Upadhyay, Additional Secretary (DARE) and Secretary (ICAR). In his inaugural address, Shri Upadhyay emphasized the need for better agricultural marketing and higher efficiency, in such a way that farmers are able to enhance their income and receive greater share in consumer price. In his remarks, Dr SP Tiwari, DDG (Edn & CS)) ICAR & AKI Nodal Officer stressed the need for better marketing in view of declining share of agriculture in gross GDP and high growth in other sectors of economy than agriculture. He expressed optimism for expanding agribusiness opportunities in igniting the growth prospects. How to connect agricultural production with marketing is a major Challenge? This was remarked by Mrs Radha Singh, Advisor (Agriculture), FICCI. Mrs Singh highlighted major areas like agricultural biotechnology, agricultural extension, agricultural marketing, post-harvest infrastructure and risk management in agriculture for public-private partnership. Ms Holly Higgins, US Embassy in India, remarked that Indo-US partnership under AKI is moving in right direction and hoped that agribusiness would help small farmers to improve their livelihood. Dr Mort Neufville, leader of the US delegation, emphasized the need for strengthening existing partnership among academia-institution-farmer to learn from each other and help farmers to move out of hunger and poverty. Dr PK Joshi, Director, NCAP welcomed the participants and provided the background of the workshop. Dr Pitam Chandra, ADG (PE), ICAR extended a vote of thanks.

The workshop was organized into four technical sessions. These were: (i) overview of agribusiness in India and US, (ii) successful models: research-industry-farmer interface, (iii) regulatory and quality issues in agri-marketing, (iv) agribusiness education and human resource development. The concluding session was devoted to plan for future partnership between India and United States of America on agri­ business related issues in research and education.

Recommendations

The major recommendations of the workshop are as follows:

  • Internship Programme in Agribusiness: A team from both India (SAUs and ICAR institutions) and US (land-grant universities) should develop internship programme in agribusiness for students after visiting institutions each other.
  • Models of linking Farmers-R&D System and Agribusiness: Some well tested models of linking farmers-R&D system and agribusinesses in the US may be pilot tested in selected places in India and based on experiences, appropriate models may be evolved for a large scale promotion. NAIP experiences in India of linking different stakeholders may be institutionalized.
  • Capacity Building of Faculty in Agribusiness: There is a need to develop programmes for capacity building of teaching faculty in agribusiness in consultation with US counterparts. The course should be blend of technical, communication skill and behaviourial sciences.
  • Knowledge Sharing: R&D system and universities from India and US should share knowledge by holding joint workshop.
  • Joint Research Programmes: Joint research studies may be conducted in the area of agribusiness to evolve successful models and case studies.