Madurai: In order to empower small and marginal farmers, the Madurai district administration has announced the implementation of the state government's collective farming scheme in the district. Under this scheme, farmers will be clubbed into interest groups enabling them to mobilise machines and materials for profitable farming.
According to the administration, there are 2.80 lakh farmers in the district cultivating variety of crops with major crops as paddy, pulses and millets in 13 blocks.
Since majority of them are small and marginal farmers, they find it difficult to adopt modern technologies in farming and struggle with cash crunch, borrowing heavily to meet their farming expenses.
They are also bogged down with problems like lack of profitable prices for their produce and transportation hurdles to take their produces to markets where better prices are available. Value addition of agricultural produces help farmers get good prices but value addition technicalities is a challenge for these small and marginal farmers.
In order to tackle these issues, state finance minister during the 2017-18 budget announced the 'collective farming' concept. Under this scheme, farmers are clubbed into interest, producer groups' and farmers' producer organisation. Through these grouping, farmers could mobilise adequate funds, adopt modern technologies and create marketing avenues.
Collector K Veera Raghava Rao in his statement mentioned that the district is planning to cover 7,500 farmers in pioneering phase during this financial year 2017-18.
Enrolling minimum 100 farmers in this phase, the district is planning to create 75 farmer producers' group in which 51 groups will be agricultural crops and 24 will be horticultural crops.
Each group will be given a corpus fund of Rs 5 lakh. All these groups will be integrated to form Tamil Nadu Farmers Agri Business Consortium with funding from National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD). Madurai has been sanctioned Rs 375 lakh grant for 2017-18, collector said.
Joint director of agriculture, A Selvapandi said the department will sensitise farming community about the collective farming to enrol them into farmers' interest groups.
Farmers cultivating same crops will be gathered into these groups. "Farmers producer groups in Madurai district are scattered and in small number. Collective farming will cover all farmers now," he added.