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Farmers acquire machines under collective farming

Collective bargaining:Farmer Producers̢۪ Groups members with their tractor bought at Nadarasapuram near Tiruverumbur in Tiruchi on Friday.M. Moorthy

The collective farming scheme launched by the State government last year is gaining traction with 75 Farmers Producers Groups (FPGs) in Tiruchi district acquiring various farm machinery last year by utilising financial assistance extended by the government.

An equal number of FPGs, with 100 members each, are to get the assistance this fiscal for purchase of farm equipment for common use by the group members.

The Collective Farming scheme envisages pooling of farmers’ resources to derive benefits of large-scale farming. Under the initiative, farmers’ interest groups (FIGs) of 20 members each is formed. Five FIGs come together to form Farmers Producers’ Groups (FPG) and 10 FPGs will form one farmer-producer organisation (FPO).

The FPGs are given Rs. 5 lakh each as corpus fund by the government to buy farm machinery of their choice. During 2017-18, the 75 FPGs have bought 270 farm machines or devices, depending on requirements of group members. Thirty-nine groups have opted to acquire tractors, which are rented to members and other farmers at nominal rates.

Agriculture department officials say many of the FPGs have utilised the scheme. For instance, the one at Natarajapuram near Tiruverumbur has made good use of the corpus fund by utilising it to buy a tractor costing Rs. 6.52 lakh, besides a cultivator, cage wheel and other accessories costing another Rs. 80,000. The additional money, above the government grant of Rs. 5 lakh, was contributed by group members.

The FPG holds regular meetings and the tractor is leased to a member of the group who is unemployed. All accounts regarding hiring and diesel consumption are maintained properly. The tractor is given on rent to group members at Rs. 1,000 an acre and to other farmers at Rs. 1,500 an acre. Preference is given to members and a register is maintained to know the priority. Group members can utilise the tractor on paying an advance and pay the remaining rent after 15 days.

The FPO members have decided to cultivate the same paddy variety, pool their produce during harvest and after processing intend to sell the rice under a brand name to fetch a higher price. The group has also made a collective purchase of seeds in bulk for Rs. 26,000 and fertilizers worth Rs. 48,000 at cheaper rates, saving Rs. 4,200 on inputs and transport cost for the farmers. Women members are undergoing training to cultivate mushrooms and making paper cups.

“Unity (among farmers) has made these possible and collective farming has given us the power to bargain. We get good revenue by renting out the tractors and it will be very useful if the government gives diesel at a subsidised price. We are also now part of the Tiruchirapallli Rockfort Collective Farming Producers Company, which plans to market rice and take up distribution and production of cattle feed in due course,” said B. Senthil Kumar, president of Natarajapuram FPG.

An agriculture official said FPGs in Tiruverumbur, Pullampadi, Marungapuri and Thuraiyur areas were functioning well.


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