1. This component aims to improve the competitiveness of small farmers that would allow them to capture increased income generating potential associated with a number of emerging trends in Indian agriculture, including: (i) shifting demand towards high value agriculture and higher quality of produce, (ii) greater urban demand, and (iii) the move of large corporations into agricultural marketing. The project intends to put in place a process that would empower small farmers to be able to respond positively to these changes in the food market by creating enabling conditions and support for production systems diversification, increased farm productivity, improved product quality and standards, and realization of value addition opportunities.
2. The project would support models that allow farmers to obtain a larger slice of the retail rupee by fostering the establishment of forward linkages and the emergence of balanced, efficient and open supply chains. Doing so would open up a “third marketing front”, besides existing regulated markets and direct purchase arrangements. The direct purchase arrangements as currently pursued by large corporations also run the risk of excluding small farmers and potentially marginalizing farmers into becoming providers of raw materials in closed supply chains. The project offers the prospects of both improved prices for producers and increased productivity that better match with consumer demand. The farmers should be enabled to tune their production to changes in demand and to take advantage of new and alternative marketing channels as well as the potential of new technologies.
3. The GoM has already initiated actions to implement Agricultural Technology Management Agency (ATMA) model of agricultural extension in all the 33 districts of the state. The ATMA model was introduced in Ahmednagar, Amravati, Aurangabad and Ratnagiri districts under the aegis of the National Agricultural Technology Project (NATP) from 1998 to 2004. It was extended to 19 districts, including previous four ATMAs, in 2005-07 under