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Boost for food processing

Calcutta, July 18: The Mamata Banerjee-government has come up with a new scheme - buyback deals - to engage farmers with the corporate sector, aiming to boost the food processing industry in Bengal.

Abdur Razzak Mollah, Bengal's food processing minister, said the scheme was different from contract farming, a practice followed by wafer makers Pepsico and ITC in a number of states, including Bengal.

Instead of negotiating with farmers, as is the case with contract farming, companies will have to enter into agreements with farmer producer organisations. Bengal has 17 such entities, each having more than a 1,000 members.

Under the buyback arrangement, food processors will have to provide technology, training and other agricultural inputs to the farmers. In addition, the sale of the produce will be based on a predetermined price. "This will not only help in ensuring quality standards to the processing company but also a fair price to the farmer," Mollah said.

"Farmers' interest is being protected while they are being given opportunity to earn more for their produce. But this is not contract farming. It is a buyback arrangement."

Mollah said he planned to introduce this arrangement in the milk and meat processing sectors.

He was speaking at a seminar on "Food processing and horticulture industries in Bengal" at the Bharat Chambers here today.


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