As both the central and state governments have been promoting Farmers Producers Companies (FPCs) to farm empowerment, the status of these grassroot companies has raised a concern. According to a survey by the Maharashtra Agriculture Department on the 6,501 registered FPCs, only 1,048 FPCs were active — just 16.12 per cent. With a majority of the FPCs being just on paper, the “future of the FPCs is concerning in the long run”.

Registered under the Company’s Act, FPCs are grassroot level companies to help farmers capitalise their power. FPCs on their part are slated to take place of cooperative institutions who over the years have lost their economic and social capital. The FPCs are expected to be non-political and work only for economic upliftment of the farmers.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led central government has set a target of forming 10,000 FPCs. The state government’s agriculture department has also formed FPCs to help better realization on part of the growers. Maharashtra is one of the states where the FPCs movement has got a good traction. However, as the survey shows, the majority of the registered FPCs is only on papers. Of the 6,501 FPCs only 1,08 are active. Also only 1250 FPCs have more than 250 share holders. Aurangabad division (districts of Aurangabad, Jalna and Beed) have the highest registered FPCs – 1293. But only 105FPCs are active in this region. Similarly of the 1154 FPCs registered in Pune division (Pune, Ahmednagar and Solapur) 192 are active. In the Latur division 1145 FPCs are registered with 152 are active.

With lesser than 20 per cent of the FPCs being active, questions are now being raised about the fate of the FPC movement. Most FPCs say that while the government has helped them in formation but when it comes business they face many problems. Most say that they have difficulties in accessing working capital without which they cant start business. Majority of the FPCs are involved in government procurements but allegations of mismanagement of funds have been levied in the process.
FPCs, Yogesh Thorat, managing director of the MahaFPC- the consortium of over 500 FPCs in the state said they are in the process of developing a software based platform which would allow them to keep a tag on the ground level working of FPCs.

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