India is an agrarian economy and agriculture continues to be the mainstay of the Indian Economy, whose contribution to the national gross domestic product is about 25% and provides livelihood for nearly 65% of the population. It provides employment to about 65% of the labour force, which accounts for nearly 27% of GDP, it contributes 21% of the total export and raw material to several Industries.
Agricultural sector has tremendous potential for expansion of employment opportunities and consequently mitigating the levels of rural poverty. These objectives can be achieved only if concerted efforts are made to realize the untapped potential of this sector. Low productivity in many crops, imbalance in the regional development, post harvest losses and inadequate processing facilities are some of the major weaknesses. There is a greater need for efficient linkages between the producers and the consumers for expanding employment opportunities and increasing the rural income through better marketing of agricultural products.
Establishment of SFAC
Realizing that the prevailing need for creating a conducive environment for generating rural employment and enhancing farmers income, the then Hon’ble Finance Minister announced the decision of Government of India’s new innovative for setting up of Small Farmer’s Agri-Business Consortium in his budget speech for the year 1992-93 in the following words:
“Special attention needs to be paid to supporting innovative ideas for generating income and employment in rural areas through support to various types of agri-business”.
The setting up of the Small Farmers' Agri-Business Consortium (SFAC) in 1994 was a sequel to the above announcement for bringing about and facilitating a farm-focus growth through new ventures in agro-based industries. SFAC has emerged as a Developmental Institution with its core aims and objectives focused on increased production and productivity, value addition, provision of efficient linkages between producers and consumers. SFAC deals with agriculture in its wider connotation, including fisheries and horticulture.
Vision and Mission
As stated earlier, farming is the most important economic activity in the country. The growth potential in this sector is immense in view of the changing food consumption habits, which demands better quality and variety. In order to meet this market led need, new approaches are being developed in agriculture sector including projects in the farm to table chain. Successes in such endeavor require innovations and partnerships. Under these circumstance Entrepreneurs and the farm sector need to work in consort so that their needs are met in a sustainable and cost effective manner.
The vision of the SFAC is to facilitate this process by aggressively promoting agri-business projects through its Project Development Facility and Venture Capital Assistance schemes, establishing forward and backward linkages with farmers, providing assured market to their produce thereby generating rural employment and enhancing farmers’ income. This is seen as a new chapter in the history of agriculture where farmers/producers groups yield not only more foods but more products, jobs and higher income in the rural areas.
SFAC secretariat is being strengthened in terms of man power resources, office equipment and utilization of external services so that it is enabled to play an effective role in promoting the interest of the farming community as a whole.
- To catalyze agro-industrial growth in the country based on the principles of:
- Ecological sustainability
- Economic efficiency
- Social equity
- To undertake or assist in undertaking programs for employment generation, growth and diversification of agriculture & agro-based industries to increase food production and export of agriculture products, in both primary and processed forms.
- To identify and promote post-harvest processing/manufactures units in the public , private and cooperative sector.
- To promote organization of marketing chain both for domestic and export marketing.
- To influence Government policies for agriculture, there by increasing the flow of resources and augmenting the rate of capital formation in agriculture sector.
- To pave the way for establishment of integrated producers’ organizations with forward and backward linkages.
- To prepare, print and publish papers, periodicals, monographs in furtherance of the objectives of the society.
SFAC in addition to the endeavors complying with its core objectives, also takes up implementation of the schemes and programs of various Government of India (GOI) Ministries and Departments and other Financial Institutions and Banks on a service charge basis. The SFAC society is currently implementing the following schemes and programs viz.
- The Schematic Pattern of Assistance from SFAC, out of GOI grants-in-aid for promotion of value addition in the hands of farmers, through setting up part-processing, Semi-processing and full-processing facilities, through the setting up of Agri-Business ventures all over the country mostly in collaboration with the private sector. and active corporation of commercial banks.
- SFAC also provides to agri-business projects involving value addition in the hands of the farmers. Most of these projects involve agri-partner and post harvest management, marketing etc.
- Horticulture Mission For North East And Himalayan States (HMNEH) on Behalf of the Department of Agriculture & Cooperation, which seeks to create a viable alternative livelihood option for the people of NER, taking into account the entire gamut of horticulture development, with all backward and forward linkages in a holistic manner..