In a significant event commemorating the International Year of Millets 2023 and on the eve of TNAU’s Centennial Year of Millets Research, the three-day International Millets Conference 2023 and Futuristic Food Expo’ 2023 took place at TNAU, Coimbatore. The conference witnessed various discussions and activities aimed at promoting millets and empowering farmer-producer organizations (FPOs) for sustainable agricultural development.
As part of the conference, an interactive meeting on “Empowering the Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) towards Excellence” was also held recently. R.N. Ravi, Hon’ble Governor of Tamil Nadu and Chancellor of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University participated in the meeting and engaged with FPO members. The Hon’ble Governor highlighted the visionary schemes of the Government of India and stressed the importance of self-reliance and inclusive economic growth for the prosperity of the people.
Recognizing that more than 50 percent of the Indian population is directly or indirectly dependent on the agricultural sector, the Governor emphasized the need to increase the agricultural economy and farmers’ income. He highlighted the Hon’ble Prime Minister’s seven-point strategies and Agriculture 4.0 as crucial paths towards achieving these goals. The formation of 10,000 FPOs is being implemented by the Government of India through State Governments to improve the socio-economic status of farmers. The Governor emphasized that FPOs play a vital role in executing market-led agricultural approaches and doubling farmers’ income by providing joint action plans, bargaining power, collective marketing, and leadership.
During the interactive meeting, the challenges faced by FPOs, such as marketing and the availability of quality inputs, were discussed. The Governor suggested successful strategies for FPOs, including robust supply chain management skills, coordination, democratic functioning, legal compliance, participatory approaches, timely market access, collective planning, resource sharing, and strong leadership.
Demonstrating their commitment to supporting FPOs, the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with 10 FPOs from different parts of Tamil Nadu during the meeting. These MoUs will facilitate technical guidance and capacity-building programs for the FPOs.
The event also featured an exhibition showcasing millet technologies and products, aiming to create awareness and promote commercialization. The Governor visited the exhibition stalls and interacted with millet entrepreneurs.
Geethalakshmi, Vice Chancellor of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, highlighted various novel initiatives undertaken by the university, including the One TNAU Centre One FPO linkage, One Faculty One Paper, TNAU Corpus Fund, international collaborations, TNAU Agricart (an online platform for purchasing TNAU farm inputs), and the promotion of TNAU startups during her welcome address.
Dr. M. Raveendran, Director of Research, expressed his gratitude during the vote of thanks, emphasizing the importance of self-reliant India and inclusive economic strategies for sustainable agricultural development. The program benefited over 1,000 participants, including FPO members, progressive farmers, entrepreneurs, and scientists.
The International Millets Conference and Interactive Meeting have set the stage for enhanced empowerment and support for FPOs, paving the way for a stronger agricultural sector and sustainable development in India.