23 Oct 2021 16:16 IST

‘Agri business space needs trained management pros’

Corporate engagement can create a competitive market, says economist Satish Deodhar at IIMA.

At a time when India's farmers suffer from losses due to low realisations and wastages, it is the deployment of modern management practices, which is seen addressing the existing shortcoming of the farm trade, say management experts.

Highlighting the key issues of farmers' plights such as reduced income and exploitation by middlemen, agriculture-economist Satish Deodhar expressed the need to rope in trained professionals and management experts to cater to this niche market of agri business and management.

 

Satish Deodhar, Chair, Post-Graduate Programme in Food and Agri-Business Management Programme (FABM), Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA).

 

 

“If a farmer gets 30 paisa from a rupee for his produce and the remaining entire 70 paisa goes only to the trader margins, then it is inefficiency. But if this 70 paisa go for value-addition, then it is generating employment and extension activities such as value-addition. That eventually contributes to increasing the farmers' income,” said Deodhar, Chair of Post-Graduate Programme in Food and Agri-Business Management Programme (FABM) at Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA).

Bridging gaps

IIMA trains students to be effective managers in agri business spaces. IIMA’s PGP-FABM batch size is currently 47 students with a substantial portion coming from the hinterland.

In order to bridge the gap between agriculture and management profession, and to bring closer the rural families to the urban centers, academic programmes such as FABM plays an important role. “Our graduates are ambassadors of management ideas when they go into the market,” he added.

Suggesting modern management solutions such as vertical integration for farming besides corporate engagement through corporate farming and processes, Deodhar says, “Corporate want right delivery at a right time with right quality. So it is in their interest to provide farmers good seeds, technology and guaranteed prices.”

Once markets are opened for farmers, there would be market discipline and price discovery becomes transparent. Farmers can choose to sell wherever prices are higher. This competitiveness ensures remunerative price for farmers.

“Under the new farm laws, the government has not given up Minimum Support Price (MSP). So, under the market mechanism, if nothing goes in favour of the farmers, then he can certainly go to the government and sell at MSP. With this mechanism, both the end-point stakeholders — growers and consumers should get a higher share of benefit and middlemen should go away,” Deodhar said pointing at the need to equip farmers with credible and actionable information on price, weather and market.

Need for entrepreneurship

This opens up opportunities for entrepreneurship in the climate information dissemination areas.

Besides general management, agriculture supply chain management and other programmes, there are also programmes on entrepreneurship. Trained professionals and management experts, therefore, can better serve this niche market agriculture business and management. IIMA's FABM alumni are heading several agro-business enterprises and start-ups.

“Though the share of agriculture has come down, it is the strong fulcrum around which balanced growth of industry and services has to take shape,” added Deodhar.