Thrust on food processing

Print edition : November 21, 2003

The MAIDC has been selling agro feed on a large scale. -

With its broad mandate that covers the entire agricultural field, the MAIDC has been responsible for a lot of positive changes in the sector.

WHEN the Government of India set up the Maharashtra Agro Industries Development Corporation Limited (MAIDC) in 1965, it was with the aim of creating a nodal agency to provide support to the food processing industry and help the manufacture and trading of agricultural inputs and implements. The main aim at the time was to streamline the system of input distribution and extend a variety of agro services to the farmers. The outcome of this was the setting up of the MAIDC or Krushiudyog, as it is also known, and 16 other State agro-industry corporations under the Companies Act, 1956. The authorised capital of the MAIDC is Rs.8 crores. It has achieved a turnover of more than Rs.470 crores and has a total manpower of about 1,400.

The broad objectives of the corporation were to manufacture and distribute agricultural machinery, inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides, and products pertaining to dairy and poultry. The corporation also aimed to develop agro-based industries to process agricultural products and to assist those who are in the field of agricultural and allied industries in modernising their farms and industries.

Over the years the MAIDC has grown from being an organisation that facilitated simple mechanisation and agro-processing to a business that facilitates investments in the agro sector. With its broad mandate that covers all of the agricultural field, the MAIDC operates through various departments that deal with animal feed, fertilizers, pesticides, agricultural engineering and food-processing.

One of the main thrust areas of the MAIDC is food processing. Managing Director Harshavardhan Gajbhiye spoke to Frontline about the new food park being constructed at the five-star industrial estate in Butibori, Nagpur. "The concept is to create a facilities centre that covers requirements such as cold storage, tetrapacking, godowns, weigh bridge and food testing laboratory, among other things," he said. Eighty plots have been created at the Orange City Food Park for entrepreneurs interested in food-processing ventures. Gajbhiye says work on most of the 100-acre complex has been completed and it is expected to be functional from March next. It is a joint effort between the MAIDC, the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation and the Union Ministry of Food Processing. The park is slated for success considering its location in a region known for its fresh farm produce as well as the availability of skilled and unskilled labour.

This venture of the MAIDC has overtaken an earlier thrust area of the corporation, horticulture, which had promoted the related and highly popular NOGA (Nagpur Orange Growers Association), the well-known brand of jams, squashes and ketchups. NOGA was established as a cooperative in 1950, but was taken over by the MAIDC in 1972. NOGA continues to be one of the market leaders and a success story of the corporation. Its products are exported to West Asia and the United Kingdom.

Since 1970 the corporation has been selling cattle feed on a large scale. One of the major activities of the corporation has been the manufacture and marketing of Maha Agro feed. The feed has proved to be very successful with farmers and dairy owners who say that it promotes maximum milk yield with minimum expenditure. It provides cattle with a balanced diet and its composition has been arrived at scientifically. It contains all nutrients required for the body and high milk yield. In order to produce this nutritionally balanced feed, the MAIDC uses a mixture of cotton seed cake, groundnut cake, kardi and til cake, maize, wheat bran, rice bran, tur chuni, molasses, mineral mixtures and vitamins. Expert agricultural technicians take into consideration various factors such as the age group of animals and milk production to prepare various types of animal feeds.

Reports from the field and also from the MAIDC's ongoing experiments indicate that Maha Agro increases the yield of milch animals and extends the lactation period to its maximum. Furthermore, it maintains fertility levels, ensuring that animals regularly come on heat thereby shortening the dry period. There are also indications that the sufficient nutrition provided by the feed assures normal development of the foetus in a pregnant animal. Extolling its benefits, Gajbhiye said, "On the whole the feed ensures the growth of the animal, builds up resistance against diseases, provides extra vigour and stamina to the animals. In the long run it reduces all-round expenses of farmers."

Fertilizers are another important component of the MAIDC. Owing to its vast dealer and marketing network the MAIDC's share of the total fertilizer market in Maharashtra is 17 per cent to 20 per cent. At present it sells over three lakh tonnes of mixture fertilizers in Maharashtra, which constitutes over 50 per cent of the market share. The corporation has its own mixture granulation units at Rasayani, Pachora, Nanded, Wardha and Kolhapur, and also trades in complex fertilizers. It regularly deals with other major fertilizer manufacturers such as Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers, the Gujarat State Fertilizer Corporation and the Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilizer Corporation, among others.

The MAIDC mainly distributes pesticides manufactured by its subsidiary company, Maharashtra Insecticides Ltd. MIL has one unit at Akola and another at Lote Parshuram. The sale of pesticides in Maharashtra is worth around Rs.40 crores, which constitutes 20 per cent of the pesticides dealt in by MAIDC. The market share of MIL comes to only 1 to 2 per cent at the all-India level. The company is slowly expanding its activities in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Gujarat.

Distribution of pesticides is an important area of activity of the MAIDC.-

Ask an agricultural engineer about one of the most successful innovations in the field in the last decade in India and the chances are that he will select the Krushivator, a branded rotary tiller developed by the MAIDC. This implement is designed for Indian farmers who use farm power in the range of 30 HP to 60 HP. The rotary tiller is time-tested and thousands of Krushivators have been in the field for over 10 years. Gajbhiye says the uniqueness of the Krushivator is that it can be used in all types of soil and proof of this is seen in its popularity with farmers who farm crops as diverse as sugarcane, cotton, cereals and pulses. The implement also owes its popularity to the fact that it can be used with various brands of tractors.

The MAIDC has an excellent product mix in agricultural engineering and farm power. The corporation makes available tractors of various makes from 18 HP to 75 HP. About 17 tractor models are sold on a subsidy given by the Central government under its programme of Promotion of Agriculture Mechanisation.

Not forgetting the poor farmer, the MAIDC also sells bullock-drawn implements and hand tools. A range of bullock-drawn implements and hand tools are available with the corporation, for which standardisation of specific quality is done. These implements are tested for performance, quality and output at various institutions of the State and Central governments. Further, the implements also have to be approved by a committee constituted by the government, in which experts from regional agricultural universities and Departments of Agriculture are members. The implements are made available to farmers from the panchayat samiti on subsidies provided by local government bodies. Thus, the corporation is making all efforts to provide all kinds of farm implements, from sickle to tractors, with adequate facilities of after-sales service and technical advice on farm mechanisation.

At its research and development centre at Pachora, the design and development of new agricultural implements are based on various aspects such as soil conditions, regional crop needs and agro-climatic conditions. Furthermore, the centre undertakes the modification of selected agricultural implements to suite the farmers' needs. The corporation has developed a bank of improved agricultural implements collected from different corners of India. The centre has a testing farm of about 50 acres (20 ha) where it has tested more than 100 implements for their efficiency and effectiveness.

The MAIDC recognised the fact that Indian farmers use traditional implements developed by village artisans to suit their local needs and a variety of soil types and crops. However, the corporation also believes that there is a need to standardise the implements. In order to achieve this, the corporation's quality control cell uses computer-aided designs and drawings. The cell helps the manufacturing units with regard to the production process, tooling and heat treatment among other things. It also examines the raw material, the production process and the finished goods to ensure quality implements, plant protection appliances and processing machinery.

In its 38 years of existence, the MAIDC not only has seen a lot of change in its sector but also has been responsible for a lot of it. Gajbhiye says, "All the efforts of and infrastructure facilities provided by our corporation have created a golden opportunity for the farming community."

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