Earlier today, I spoke on the subject at a Conference in Delhi. In essence, this is what I said:
India has successfully transitioned out of an era of food shortages, with the help of giant strides taken by Indian agriculture over years.
With the increasing per capita incomes and growing awareness, today’s consumers are seeking better quality and more variety in their food products. They prefer products that offer convenience while buying and using. Food safety is another area of concern. Much like the agricultural production system responded to the growing demand in the past, there is an opportunity for the agri-business system to respond and deliver these requirements to the consumer.
Besides adding value through conventional processing and packaging, today’s agri-businesses can also explore a number of additional sources of value creation. For example,
Supply Chain Management: Through supply chains that preserve product identity from farm gates to the retail shelves, or even better, supply chains that trace products to farm practices, product integrity can be maintained and safety can be assured.
Backward Integration: Through tighter integration of production systems into their value chains, agri-businesses can transmit demand signals to the farmers, transfer modern crop management technologies, coordinate delivery of farm inputs, and share production & market risk with the farmers; this will help produce crops and varieties more sharply aligned with the market demands.
Risk Management: Through new market based risk management institutions such as Commodity Derivative Markets (Futures & Options) and Weather Based Crop Insurance Products, the production and market risk inherent in agriculture can be transferred into the broader marketplace for more effective management.
These steps will deliver value to the consumers, improve farm profitability and create sustainable opportunities for the enterprises that connect the consumers with farmers.
On its part, the Government must facilitate this transition by reforming the currently restrictive agricultural laws such as Agricultural Produce Marketing Act, Essential Commodities Act and Forward Contracts Regulation Act.