Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Tuesday said the contribution of agriculture in state's income was gradually declining and there was a need to replicate the cooperative marketing model of Verghese Kurien.
"The contribution of agriculture in the state's income was gradually declining as the farmers were caught in the wheat-paddy rotation trap," Badal said while divulging the farm diversification plans in the state.
He said that efforts were afoot to implement this model in Punjab urban areas like Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Amritsar, Patiala and Bathinda.
The veteran Akali leader appealed for the need to adopt world's best practices of wholesale market management for the marketing of fruits and vegetables in the state to ensure remunerative returns to the farmers, especially the small and marginal ones.
Badal was addressing the international conference on 'Wholesale Markets: Global Opportunities and Innovations' organised by the Punjab State Agricultural Marketing Board here.
He suggested formulation of a common consensus group of wholesale market investors, developers, managers, operators and administrators to extend mutual cooperation besides developing marketing strategies to ensure maximum profitability of the fruits and vegetables growers through a well-knit wholesale marketing network.
The chief minister said that the cooperative system was the best option to facilitate the inter-state marketing of fruits and vegetables from Punjab in about 50 major cities across the country having big markets, with each city having a population of over one million.
"This system provided better price to small producers by eliminating middlemen and reducing the transport cost," he said.
"There is a need to replicate the model of the father of White Revolution, late Verghese Kurien, who played an exemplary role in making India the world's largest milk producer through successful cooperative marketing network. The Verghese model should now be followed in other areas such as marketing of fruits and vegetables," he said.
At present, fruits and vegetables were now produced and marketed through a cooperative network of over 250 farmer-owned retail stores in Delhi, he said.
The only way out was through diversification and improved marketing, Badal said, adding the state government had recently submitted a diversification plan to the Union Government for shifting 1.2 million hectares of area under rice cultivation to other crops like maize, cotton with a main focus on fruits and vegetables during the next six years.
"Fruit and vegetable cultivation was a viable and remunerative alternative to existing crops. Kinnow was the principal fruit crop and potato was the most important vegetable crop in the state. The fruit and vegetable annual production was around five million tonne in Punjab," he said.
Badal said time has now changed from old agricultural marketing approach to new business model through the application of advance technology and modern business concepts to get remunerative price compete in world market.
"The procurement of perishables like fruits and vegetables by government agencies was extremely difficult and Private Public Partnership (PPP) model was one of the solutions to ensure the marketing of these commodities in an efficient and result-oriented manner," he said.
The chief minister said the Punjab State Agriculture Marketing Board had undertaken a number of measures for the promotion of fruits and vegetables cultivation and setting up of the modern market infrastructure in Punjab with a network of 90 fruits and vegetables markets, of which 20-22 were major ones, to provide the post harvest facilities.
He, however, said due to liberalisation, agricultural market no longer implied a localised farmer market, rather it meant a national or international level markets.