This is the time for farmers, farm entrepreneurs!

To invest and make big money in the farm sector!

You have to know the changes in our economic sectors and policies! You have to know the new opportunities. New innovative agri projects are coming up. Almost everyday! So many people ask us, they visit us or talk over the phone and we find almost all of them are so ignorant of how the current agri scene is changing fast.

Only when some big name/names like Sunil Mittal or Reliance announces they enter the agri sector, then the urban press reports. There are hundreds of farmers’ success stories no body reports. Also, there is no idea of what a market means to any average farmer. The new generation farmers, entrepreneurs must know, study the existing markets for farm products, more importantly, the emerging markets, the market potentials, the new market that could be created for several new products and processes. Our focus is primarily to draw new investors, entrepreneurs to the agri sector. Entrepreneurs, from within the farming families or from outside, are now taking interest in investing in many innovative enterprises.

We talk so much about innovative ventures in industry, in IT and services. But why not innovative enterprises and services in the agri/rural sector? There are so many ideas that are floating around. Ideas and the finance can be identified, nurtured and turned into successful ventures. If only the banks and others are educated. This is what we at Vadamalai Media are engaged in!

Even if you want to sell a crop at higher prices or buy cheap or invest money in creating new agro ventures, you have to know the Indian economy, how the many new reforms had changed agriculture, how new opportunities are coming and how also new challenges are there. Unless you are a willing learner, willing to know more about the developments outside agriculture, you can’t make profits in agriculture!

Our National Highways have all expanded; there is a great movement of goods and people from villages to cities. Though 70 per cent of the Indians live in the villages and rural areas, agriculture’s contribution to GDP is shrinking. Between 1990 and 1995 agriculture’s contribution to GDP is 1/3. Today, its contribution had come down further to 1/5! How many agri enthusiasts know this or how many know what this fast change means to new investments in the agri sector? Not many. Still we hear that our agri experts, who advise the government or the government which announces policies or relief packages (as done by the PM in Vidharba); know what critically needs to be done.

The same talk, the same pious talk and nothing happens at the grassroots. Minister Kamalnath says FDI has grown by 47% to 1.7 billion dollars in just three months! So too he says that India’s exports during July increased by 41% to 10.2 billion dollars. It is time our farmers must learn to earn in dollars!

Of course, unless you really know what needs to be done, there is no point in blaming the ministers, bankers or even the policies. That is why, Vadamalai Media, as the leading agri media/consultancy company advocates often radical and even blunt, a sort of hands-on policy packages and strategies for those who come to us to invest their funds and time!

There is a whole lot of things need to be done, as the World Bank had said in many of its Public Delivery of Services in the States, to the people in various core sectors.

As far as farmers are concerned, more so the majority, the small, medium farmers, there is no way forward unless certain crops, certain zones and certain new strategies (like raising the pulses production) contract farming with an assured price, insurance, price stabilization funds are the key inputs if farmers are no more to suffer the fate, as suffered by the Vidharba farmers.

Now, there is the on-going zeal and also fury on the new mantra of development: the Special Economic Zones. The acquisition of agricultural land on a vast scale is only one aspect of the problem. As far as farming modernization is concerned the Apeda scheme of agriculture export zones seem to have been simply forgotten as the pitch is on industry and there is no lobby or no party to speak for the farmers crying need to get the latest incentives and subsidies.

With new airports modernization and national highways and ports developments, there is a need to decide the agri export zones too so that certain export commodities and crops can be profitably raised in advantageous locations.

One very important suggestion we want to put forward to the Prime Minister would be, please locate one or two (or even more) SEZs in drought-prone and rainfed agri patches like Vidharba so that the farmers suicide-prone parts of the country are give a focused approach. It would be a crime, if as  experts and leaders like V.P. Singh contend(there is some force in their contention) that as of now, the big industrial houses seem to be getting too much of agri land as if it is a real estate boom, and also without much thought  to the uprooted farmers. So, there is an urgency to come out with a new land allocation policy and a strategy, so that every stakeholder benefits, equitably.
 
This is the second point we like to highlight. Agriculture production just to serve the PDS is no more viable for the farmers and once you see the farming scenario in terms of simple food self-sufficiency, then we, as policy makers, are clearly cheating the helplessness of our farmers. They are being cornered from all sides, by the SEZs enthusiasm for vast tracts of agricultural land,25,000 acres for one Reliance, another such big slice for the other brother in UP over which V.P.Singh is protesting. Yes, some 150 SEZs in the pipeline and more are expected, with the sort of tax and other concessions, there is going to be a huge pressure on helpless farmers to part with land, willingly or through other means. Karnataka got so much land for distribution to IT co.s and the Bangalore-Mysore highways. So, there is clearly a new policy to give farmers shares and jobs and other benefits.

If at all a new farmers friendly policy is needed it is now and it has to visualize the rehabilitation of farmers, on the lines of the dam oustees. With the urban renewal mission pressing on, there is going to be more pressure on parting with farm land. So, we have to announce a bold new policy to enhance farmers’s participation on justice and equity grounds as well as for sharing economic prosperity once the various new infrastructure developments would impact the farmers.

It is in this context the agri export zones also acquire urgency. There is a sort of book in agri exports. But there is no action to motivate the farmers who already produce quality exportable products, be it vegetables and fruits or medicinal crops. This, if we can say so, is the topmost priority to generate more high paying jobs for the farming families or others who would enter this sphere.

Some Chief Ministers like AP’s Dr.Rajashekar Reddy and even W.Bengal CM, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee have clearly visualised this conflict between the need for infrastructure development, new industrial locations as well as meeting the tensions, the heartburns that farmers are subjected to in our enthusiasms for SEZs and drawing up of packages for the stakeholders.

Certainly, our enthusiasm to court the big industrialists we should not lose sight of two things. One, just to part with such vast tracts of valuable land near the big cities is not a wise policy. Second, to be driven by the industrialists, the State has a duty to induce and offer all concessions to woe the big ones to move to backward regions.

So, in the emerging scenario, any agricultural investments, if done after taking into consideration the internal and export markets, after doing the needed information gathering and also investing a small sum to get the market survey done professionally would save a lot of bother once the projects are launched.

They scope for high tech farming, floriculture, medicinal crops, cultivation and processing, various agro processing units, the list is so long and new opportunities are coming almost everyday, all the new agri investors need to be to invest in the information! That would make your investments really profitable in both the short and the medium terms. Also, some basic business practices, to keep well-informed, get your project well-prepared, bankers ignorance suitable tackled, the emerging markets all demand, quality, reliability etc.

So, all businesses are the same. Agribusiness too requires the very same qualities: lot of integrity, honesty, leadership, determination to succeed, to take timely decisions etc.

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