With an intention to help improve the income of Indian farmers, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will now sharpen focus on this area. The foundation has also collaborated with Niti Aayog to work on a project in Bihar.
“Indian agriculture is facing several challenges despite Indian government being one of the largest spender on agriculture in the world," Dr. Purvi Mehta, Asia Lead- Agriculture, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said speaking on the priorities for 2017.
"We have decided to sharpen our focus on increasing farmers’ income as a knowledge partner and working with farmers organisation, government agencies etc to achieve that goal,” Mehta added.
The foundation has given a grant of a $1 billion to various projects in India since 2007. Of this, $140 million has been spent on agriculture alone and the figures are likely to go up.
Currently, the foundation has several programmes under implementation. “It is helping farmers to market their produce well by using aggregation model or hedging them on the commodity exchange platform is already implemented in a smaller way successfully and now more vigorous efforts will be made to help farmers diversify crops, including Legume crops (such as peas) where India is largely import dependent,” said Mehta.
Besides, launching a pilot project in Bihar for developing pulses value chain along with NITI Ayog, the foundation is also working with NCDEX and other agencies, including Farmers Producers Organisation (FPOs) who can act as aggregators on behalf of farmers.
According to the plan, FPOs will collect farmers produce and sell them at a better price using their skills and even working with mandis on how to help farmers realise more.
The facilities for grading produce is another option where the foundation can help. It also aims to guide farmers to come together to form a company.
“Livestock farming and dairy sectors are other areas where we have seen success and we will put more efforts and resources there,” said Mehta.
The project for goat rearing in Bihar has been extensively successful as the income of rural women has risen with the implementation of new techniques and training.
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