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    Odisha’s APC Exemplifies Successful Government-Civil Society Partnerships

    AgricultureAgri-businessOdisha’s APC Exemplifies Successful Government-Civil Society Partnerships
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    Odisha’s APC Exemplifies Successful Government-Civil Society Partnerships

    Odisha’s APC Project was initiated as a collaborative effort between the state government, non-governmental organizations, and international development agencies to promote sustainable agriculture and rural development.

    By Asim Sagar Tirkey

    The five years old Agriculture Production Cluster (APC) Programme is a government initiative implemented in the state of Odisha, aimed at enhancing agricultural productivity and rural livelihoods through cluster-based development approaches.

    Odisha was known for its poverty where most of the rural people are migrated to urban areas due to poverty. Temporary or circular migrants of Odisha majorly moved to developed cities (like Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Raipur etc.) in search of opportunity to make money. As these communities of rural areas having lower living standards and could not get work opportunities, they were forced to migrate to other developed states.

    Converting farming into a business model is the big change enabled by the Agriculture Production Cluster (APC) project. The project aims to empower small and marginal women farmers by doubling their revenue sustainability through collectivisation and synchronised production in backward blocks of the state.

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    Interestingly, Odisha’s APC Project was initiated as a collaborative effort between the state government, non-governmental organizations, and international development agencies to promote sustainable agriculture and rural development. By establishing agriculture production clusters, the project intended to enhance the agricultural value chain, introduce modern farming practices, and foster teamwork among farmers, agribusinesses and support services with the aim to address the issues of vulnerable families by promoting livestock rearing. These are being supported by creation of livelihood support infrastructures like irrigation, plantation, post-harvest management structures and Goat and Backyard poultry sheds. The project also aims to reduce migration of youth by nurturing agriculture entrepreneurs who will provide doorstep services and support the farm-market ecosystem.

    The project comprises government partners – the directorate of horticulture, the Odisha Livelihood Mission, Mission Shakti, District Mineral Foundation. Funding Partners include the District Mineral Foundation, Bharat Rural Livelihoods Foundation (BRLF) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). On the ground, the lead NGO Partner is PRADAN that works with 26 ground level working local NGOs in various blocks.

    The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) guarantees employment and livelihood opportunities to rural households, while the APC project focuses on enhancing agricultural productivity and income generation in specific clusters. Plantation is done on farmers’ land in APC project, mainly mango and drumstick plants are planted. Manpower is provided by MGNREGA in the work of this plantation. Like levelling the land, digging pits for planting saplings, planting saplings and fencing etc. Structure is also made for irrigation in many places, this is also done by MGNREGA only.

    MGNREGA has played a significant role in enhancing agricultural productivity among farmers. By providing labour support during peak agricultural seasons, the programme has enabled farmers to undertake various farm activities such as land preparation, sowing, weeding, and harvesting. This timely assistance has resulted in increased crop yields and improved agricultural practices, ultimately contributing to sustainable livelihoods.  MGNREGA projects are also often involve activities related to natural resource management, such as water conservation, afforestation, and soil erosion control.

    APC has encouraged farmers to diversify their crop choices, enabling them to explore new markets and mitigate risks associated with a mono-crop economy. The project also facilitated access to improved seeds, fertilizers, and technology, contributing to enhanced farm productivity. All the farmers of the village belong to a Producer Group, due to which all the farmers work in teamwork. They have been given access to farm mechanization so that all the farmers of the village can be helped. Farmers who were members of the Producer Group got timely information and assistance, hence resulted in increased crop yields and improved agricultural practices, ultimately contributing to sustainable livelihoods.

    It also facilitates the promotion of Producer Groups and Producer Companies for sustainability by ensuring synchronized production, linkage with market and access different livelihood support infrastructures. Producer Groups are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity. Producer Group members must believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others.

    The APC Project has had a positive impact on the socio-economic status of migrant farmers in Odisha. Improved agricultural practices and access to technology have resulted in increased crop yields, leading to higher incomes for the farmers. Many beneficiary farmers reported a decrease in their dependency on off-farm employment and a rise in their living standards. By promoting value addition and market linkages, farmers gained access to higher-value markets, leading to increased income opportunities.

    The Agriculture Production Cluster Project has proven to be a beneficial initiative for migrant farmers in Odisha, by improving agricultural practices, enhancing market linkages, and reducing migration. The project has facilitated the adoption of modern farming techniques, improved access to quality inputs, and promoted the use of advanced technologies, leading to increased yields for various high value crops.

    FPOs have enabled farmers to bypass intermediaries and directly engage with buyers, leading to better price realisation and reduced exploitation. FPOs provided training and capacity-building programs to farmers, enhancing their understanding of modern agricultural practices and market dynamics.

    The success of the APC Project serves as a model for similar interventions in other regions facing agricultural challenges and rural-urban migration. Further continued support from the government and stakeholders can ensure the project’s lasting impact on the lives of migrant farmers in Odisha.

    Asim Sagar Tirkey is a student of B.Tech Agriculture Engineering, SV College of Agriculrure Engineering, RS, Indira Gandhi Krishi Vishwavidyalaya, Raipur. This piece has been extracted from the internship report submitted by the author as part of the Abhijit Sen Rural Internship programme of National Foundation for India (NFI).

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