Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Vidarbha farmers flay Maharashtra Agra Industrial Policy-2010 Draft-Hitavada

With nothing substantial for Vidarbha, the proposed Agro Industrial Policy 2010 , drafted by Maharashtra, is being criticized from experts and activists in the region.

Maharashtra Government has drafted the Agro Industrial Policy 2010 as per the recommendation of the Maharashtra Industrial Infrastructure and Investment Policy 2006. Once implemented, it is likely to create more off farm jobs and also bring greater value addition and incomes for the rural population. The draft reads that hit aims at value addition from agricultural produce by induction of modern technology into food processing. Minimization of wastage across the food processing chain and promotion of investment in various related fields by increasing the participation of farmers in food processing and related sectors, creating new employment opportunities, and increasing incomes, particularly of the rural population.

The policy recommendation including formation of agri-clustures based on production strengths of different regions. A close study of the provision reveals that 67 clusters have been proposed of which will have only 10 clusters. End-to-end integrated projects would be promoted in these clusters with financial assistance from World Bank. ADB and International Fund for Agricultural Development. The total investment for these projects would be Rs. 2,000 crores.

However, when oranges are cultivated mainly in Amravati and Nagpur districts , the policy has recommended to form orange cluster in Yavatmal district that mainly produces Tur . Worst part of it, Yavatmal or even its adjoining districts have not been included in the list where Tur clusters have been proposed.

Similarly, even though Amla fruit is no where in the top produced fruits in Akola and Buldhana, the Policy proposes to form Amla fruit clusters in the two districts.

Similarly, the draft policy also urges to form ‘large number’ of Mega-Food Parks in the state. However, no specific mention of provision has been made for the farmers –suicide struck Vidarbha region.

The draft also talks of forming micro-level clusters across the state. It may be mentioned that those already started in the state are situated in Sindhudurga, Ratnagiri, Nashik and Sangli, all in western Maharashtra. The State Government has recently decided to support the MSE-CDP clusters in backward areas of Maharashtra to the extent of 10 percent of the project cost, in addition of central funding.

However, the MSE-CDP is intended for comparatively larger projects with the cost limit of Rs. 25 crore, with a larger no of existing units, and is not restricted to agro-industries. The scale of micro agro clusters may be very small compared to clusters under the MSE-CDP, with likely project cost for common infrastructure between Rs 50 lakhs to Rs 1 crore. The micro clusters will not be identified so as to focus on the specific needs of similar agro industries. “The draft policy will only benefit western Maharashtra region that has good irrigation facilities and not Vidarbha. In fact, the Policy has no major proposal for the region”, pointed out President of VJAS Kishor Tiwari.

He alleged that the policy has been drafted by some foreign multi-national company that favors well-off regions. “ If implemented in its present form, the policy will add up to the number of farmer suicides in Vidarbha”.

“Entering policy focuses on marketing agricultural produce and market regulation. It will only benefit the foreign MNCs having interest in this sector. It will not benefit the cotton and soyabean cultivating Vidarbha Region”.


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