ITC & Shri Balaji FPO collaborate to transform income of “IPM cumin” growing smallholder farmers

The expression of interest was signed between Shri Balaji FPO and ITC on 1st March 2021 during the farmers mela attended by 250 smallholder farmers

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New Delhi: Facilitated by the Department of Biotechnology supported DBT-SABC Biotech Kisan Hub for Western Dry Region, FPO Shri Balaji Farmers Producers Company Limited,  and ITC Ltd, Barmer, Rajasthan have agreed to work together for procurement, aggregation, and buy-back of quality IPM and organic cumin from smallholder farmers of Jaitran tehsil of Pali district of Rajasthan.
The expression of interest was signed between Shri Balaji FPO and ITC on 1st March 2021 during the farmers mela attended by 250 smallholder farmers on the cumin demonstration farmer’s field organized jointly by DBT-SABC Biotech Kisan hub and Ambuja Cement Foundation at village Kurki, Tehsil Jaitran, District Pali of Rajasthan.
DBT-SABC Biotech Kisan hub has been implementing two cumin demonstrations to promote GAP and IPM package of practices in the most backward areas of Jaitaran tehsil of Pali district of Western Rajasthan. In Rabi 2020-21, DBT-SABC Biotech Kisan hub has been organizing 63 mega farm demonstrations of cumin, Nagauri paan methi, fenugreek and isabgol in 7 districts of Western Rajasthan in collaboration with ICAR-NRCSS, supported by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Govt of India.
The collaboration would allow FPO Shri Balaji Farmers Producers Company Limited to aggregate, procure and store quality IPM and organic cumin on behalf of ITC as per the prescribed quality norms. ITC in turn buys-back IPM & organic cumin directly at a premium price from FPO Shri Balaji Farmers Producers Company Limited to enhance farmers income and livelihood.
“We are deeply grateful to Bhagirath ji of DBT-SABC Biotech Kisan hub and Ambuja Cement Foundation for facilitating the collaboration between our FPO Shri Balaji and ITC limited. This is a dream come true. Our farmers will be benefited by this collaboration with ITC, and we will get premium price for IPM and organic cumin produced by most backward farmers of our region”, said Rambharos Gurjar, CEO of Shri Balaji FPO, Village Balada, Pali.
Rajasthan produces 2/3rd of total cumin production over 6,76,240 hectares in 2019-20 led by Barmer, Jodhpur, Jalore, Jaisalmer, Nagaur, Bikaner, Ajmer, Pali and Sirohi districts. “IPM cumin is the future of farming & can fetch 10-20% premium price to cumin growing farmers in Rajasthan. The collaboration between Shri Balaji FPO and ITC Ltd is an outcome of DBT-SABC biotech Kisan hub project, which is promoting IPM cumin production in Western Rajasthan. There is a potential international market for IPM cumin from Japan, EU and USA that could help our farmers to transform income and livelihood”, said Dr Bhagirath Choudhary of the DBT-SABC Biotech Kisan hub and technical member on the Board of APEDA, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Govt of India.
The majority of cumin produced in Rajasthan is transported to Unja mandi of Gujarat, which costs enormous resources to farmers in loading & unloading and transportation and uncertainty about price at mandi system. This collaboration will bring market to the doorstep of farmers. “ITC is committed to create value for smallholder farmers across supply chain of Agri commodities. Our quest is to help smallholder get better realization for quality seed spices such as cumin. Engaging with FPO is a way to pass on benefits directly to farmers and this is a classic example of creating value for residue free and IPM cumin”, alluded  Giriraj Sharma of ITC Ltd.
The Spices Board of India Jodhpur office has laid emphasis on backward integration and buy back arrangement to increase price realization of IPM cumin produced in different districts of Western Rajasthan. “The Spices Board of India is proactively collaborating with DBT-SABC Biotech Kisan hub, ICAR-NRCSS and State Agriculture Department to increase farmers income in Rajasthan”, said Dr MY Honnur of the Spices Board of India.
“Buyback arrangement was a missing piece in the quality production of cumin in this area. The agreement between Shri Balaji FPO and ITC Ltd is a landmark achievement which would go a long way in strengthening supply chain of seed spices of Pali district of Rajasthan”, said Manoj Agarwal of the Ambuja Cement Foundation.