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Punjab farmers bring revolution with cooperative society

Hoshiarpur (Punjab), Mon, 22 Jun 2009 ANI

Hoshiarpur (Punjab), June 22 (ANI): Farmers in Hoshiarpur district, who set up Farmers' Produce Promotional Society (FAPRO) in 2001, have proved how an alert farming community can help bring about a revolution in farming.


These farmers here are no longer cultivating wheat and paddy. Instead, they have taken to growing turmeric and pulses, besides producing honey and jaggery.


The mechanized turmeric processing unit in village Ghugial in Punjab's Hoshiarpur district is an example of the initiative taken by the 308-member farmers group.


The cooperative, Farmers Produce Promotional Society (FAPRO), came into existence in 2001 with 174 members.


To improve its profits, the society set up a processing unit, granted by the government under Rashtriya Sam Vikas Yojana to process their farm produce such as turmeric, pulses and honey.


Today, 'FAPRO' is well-known for its quality and low-priced products. Eighty five of its members are small and marginal farmers that reap rich dividends growing turmeric on 600 acres.


"Our project involves increasing the revenue of the small and marginal farmers. We purchase the crops at higher rates from the farmers and supply it to the consumer at a lower price. As there are no middlemen, the producer and consumers both stand to gain. The farmers get good money after selling it a higher rate and the consumers get quality products at a lower price," said Jasminder Singh Dhariwal, President of FAPRO.


"We encourage educated and unemployed youth of our village to market and sell our products. Until the farmers sell their farm produce in the market directly the middlemen will take their profits away. Farmer as well as the consumer will lose out. The mediators sometimes take advantage of the farmers. Due to this the consumers get poor quality products. Our effort is to produce quality products because only then we can sell our it in the world market through WTO," said Paramjeet Singh Vice President of FAPRO.


Until now, Punjab used to get all its turmeric from Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. But FAPRO has brought about a revolution and made Punjab self-reliant in turmeric.


Farmers like Sarabjeet Singh are reaping the benefits of dual farming. This year, he has grown poplar trees along with turmeric. He produced 80-90 quintals of turmeric per acre and sold it at 11 dollars a quintal to the FAPRO processing plant.


Now, members of the cooperative have no worries regarding the marketing of their produce. And, they get handsome returns too.


"Previously there were many problems in marketing our produce. Our turmeric could not be sold in the market but since the FAPRO plant was set up in our village...all problems have been solved. We cut our crops, load it in trolleys and take them to the FAPRO's factory. We get 550 rupees per quintal for our produce. The best thing is that we don't have to use pesticides. We use manure, which protects our crop from disease and bacteria," said Sarabjeet Singh, turmeric producer.


FAPRO is the first-of-its-kind society in Punjab that has been handling production, promotion and sale of produce themselves, without any government help.


With its success, the state agriculture department is thinking of replicating the model all over the country. Such an initiative is a win-win situation for both-farmers and the consumers. By Sumit Khanna (ANI)


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