Institutions and the Grassroots Level Agencies are ‘Fresh solutions’, which are critical & crucial for the success of the relationship between the Buyers and the Farmers

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Mumbai,2018: India’s annual International Fresh Produce Conference and Expo, organized by Fruitnet in co-operation with the SCS Group was held on the 26th-27th of April 2018 at the Trident Hotel, Nariman Point in Mumbai.

The Conference had eminent Speakers from India like Devangshu Dutta of Third Eyesight, K Radhakrishnan of, Parth Karwat of Yuppa and from other countries, Filip Fontaine of BelOrta, Belgium, Pierre Nicholas Pérès of the Brazilian Apple Growers, Brazil, Tracy Burns of Freshmax New Zealand, among others, who spoke on specialized subjects in Agriculture and Horticulture as well as interesting Panel discussions and Workshops that were well attended. John Hey, Matt Jones of Fruitnet were part of the Organizing Team along with their Managing Director, Chris White.

The Keynote Address on ‘Fresh solutions to India’s Cold Chain Challenges’, was given by Augustine Chalissery, Founder, and CEO of SPD –SourceProcureDeliver. His presentation was followed by that of Ms. Ruchika Kuthari – Head Reefer and Pharma Segment Sales of Maersk Line India Pvt Ltd.

The Keynote Address focussed on ways to empower the Farmer and build an eco-system that could facilitate a Win/Win formula for all Stakeholders ensuring that the Farmers got a fair share and were secured in all aspects.

“All of us keep whining that the Government of India does not do enough”, said Augustine Chalissery. “In fact the Government of India spends astronomical amounts of money that runs into billions of dollars to build the ‘Cold Chain Infrastructure’, but, it is not visible for two reasons – one is the fact that the Farmer Community unfortunately lacks the wherewithal to put up a Commercial Document together that can be presented to avail of the numerous schemes for funding and building their business And the second critical reason is that, the Silent Stakeholder – the one who buys from the Farmers and sells to their Customers has nothing to do with the Farmers profits, losses and debts.

With the entry of Investors setting up Food Processing Units across Maharashtra and Food Parks across India it is our responsibility to empower the Farmer to run his business like a Micro, Small or Medium Enterprise. Else, they will be pushed from the frying pan into the fire. 42 Mega Food Parks are in various stages of finalization, 12 parks have become operational and 3 Food Processing Units are to be set-up in Maharashtra.

The Government of India has launched several Portals like the National Logistics Portal, National Agricultural Market Portal (e-nam), Integrated Cold Chain Availability Platform as well as several others that are functional and intended to bring about transparency in the transactions between the Farmer community and the Buyers. Unless the Silent Stakeholder wakes up and begins to use it, the results we expect will never be seen.

NABARD, APEDA, Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MOFPI) and several other Institutional Agencies has budgetary allocation for disbursement of funds for building the Cold Chain Infrastructure.

Grassroots Agencies like the Maharashtra State Rural Livelihood Mission (MSRLM), Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), Maharashtra Organic Farming Federation (MOFF), Krishi Vighyan Kendra (KVK’s) and so many others worked at the grassroots levels to empower the marginalized and under privileged sections of society. Working in tandem with the Institutional and the Grassroots Agencies is critical to the success of the relationship between the Buyers and the Farmers.”

“The only way” says Augustine Chalissery, “to bridge the gap is for the Missing Link i.e. the Buyer – be it the Food Processing Unit, Wholesale Buyer or Corporate entity, either Local or Overseas, to enter into a Contract Farming MOU with the Farmer’s Co-operative. This will make the Buyer a Stakeholder in the business and bring in the much needed Intellectual Equity into the equation.

With the entry and active involvement of the end Buyer, all links in the chain falls into place. The Farmer’s Co-operative will then be in a position to present the Project Report with financials, projections, ROI, profitability etc to the Institutional Agencies for working capital and funding. This will make the Farmer secure and independent.

Our responsibility is to ensure that the Farmer will not be at the mercy of the Buyer and as else the whole objective of making them self-reliant will be lost. We should make sure that they do not end up in a worse condition than they are right now.”

SPD – SourceProcureDeliver is a Fourth Party Logistics (4PL) Provider that brings value-add in this space. SPD brings together Logistics Solutions Providers and Engineering Technologists from across various disciplines, Shipping Lines, Cold Stores, Food Processing Units, Pack Houses, Refrigerated Truck Fleet Owners, Institutional Agencies and Grassroots Agencies with a view of building a fully integrated supply & value chain.