Retail music for farmers - Drive to take case for investment to the grassroots

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Retail music for farmers - Drive to take case for investment to the grassroots

Post  Anand on Fri Aug 15, 2008 6:21 pm

Calcutta, Aug. 13: Farmers in Bengal will be told of the benefits of food retail in a language they understand and by voices they are familiar with.

The Indian Chamber of Commerce is holding a three-day event called the Second Green Revolution Summit that will be addressed by politicians like chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar.

At least 6,500 farmers and agri-traders from Bengal alone are expected to participate in the meeting scheduled from September 24 to 26 at Science City.

By far the largest initiative to address concerns that farmers will be hit the hardest if big investors enter food retail, the event will be chaired by Naren De, the Bengal agriculture minister whose party Forward Bloc has been erecting hurdles before companies such as Reliance and Metro Cash and Carry.

De is considered less vocal against opening up agriculture retail unlike his party colleague and state agri-marketing board chief Naren Chatterjee.

Sources said the meeting had the blessings of the state government. Chief minister Bhattacharjee is known to be in favour of private investment in retail as he feels that such a route is the only way through which wastage of perishable commodities can be checked.

Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi will open the meet that will also be attended by Union minister of state for commerce Jairam Ramesh and Union food processing minister Subodh Kant Sahay. Over 100 private companies are expected to take part in the meeting.

“The focus of the seminar is the small and marginal farmer with a modest land holding. It is relevant to Bengal in particular,” said Rajiv Singh, the secretary-general of the business chamber.

The meeting will unveil a vision document on the impact of organised food retail on agriculture in the country. The chamber said it would appoint a market research agency to carry out field surveys involving corner stores, farmers, consumers and large retailers to assess the impact.

The industry association will provide headsets to farmers to ensure that they get Bengali or Hindi feed of speeches in English. Industry sources said the meet would try to start a discussion between industrialists and farmers as well as agri-traders to allay fears of job loss and fall in profits.

The Science City auditorium can accommodate 2,200 people. About 2,000 will be able to participate in each session. The chamber has also booked rooms on the Salt Lake stadium premises for farmers and traders to stay.

Farmers from Punjab and Haryana – the cradle of the Green Revolution in the sixties -- and Uttar Pradesh are also expected to participate.

The chamber is planning to involve around 30 agriculture institutes and universities to set up stalls and share information with the farmers.


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