Promoting agro ventures in Orissa

APICOL based at Bhubaneswar provides funds for agriculture projects in Orissa.

In 1996, the government adopted a bold and unique agriculture policy for the first time in the country to increase investment in agriculture, bring in a shift from subsistence agriculture to commercial agriculture and accorded status of industry to agriculture. An exclusive organisation, The Agricultural Promotion and Investment Corporation of Orissa Limited (APICOL) was set up in Bhubaneswar, Orissa, with the objective of translating the above objectives into reality through undertaking various promotional roles such as providing counselling and escort services, entrepreneurship building, extending consultancy services, disseminating information amongst entrepreneurs and above all act as a single window channelizing agency for various incentives under agriculture policy.

Activities
APICOL is a promotional organization, which promotes commercial agriculture including agro based and food processing industries. It also provides handholding supports to entrepreneurs including counselling and escort service. The organisation also channelises various enterprises under different schemes in favour of such incentives.

Speaking about the various activities of APICOL, Dr. AK Behera, managing director, says, “APICOL also undertakes entrepreneurship building programmes, awareness workshops and seminars. It has been a continuous effort of APICOL to source technologies from R&D institutions, identify the scope and potential of various enterprises in a particular location/region and thereafter prepare bankable project reports and identify suitable entrepreneurs to carry it forward,” adding, “We also commission various feasibility studies before considering the need of various enterprises. APICOL provides almost one-stop solution to agri entrepreneurs.”

Apart from above, APICOL acts as the nodal agency for Ministry of Food Processing Industries, Government of India, acts as virtual office of APEDA under Ministry of Commerce, Government of India an organization to facilitate export of agricultural produces and processed foods in the country. “APICOL also channalizes assistance from APEDA for participation in international trade fairs. Some portion of travel expenditure, participation fee, stall charges if any, preparation brochures etc are part of assistance provided,” informs Dr. Behera. APICOL also runs the NCJD’s Jute Services Centre under Ministry of Textiles, Government of India to build awareness on various jute diversified products. “This organization also works as think tank for the agriculture department of government of Orissa. It facilitates various policy initiatives taken by the government from time to time,” he adds.

APICOL Assisted Projects
According to Dr. Behera since APICOL’s inception in 1996, more than 1000 commercial agri enterprises with an investment of around Rs.150 crores have been established in the state of Orissa till date. “There are many dairy and poultry projects, horticultural projects, cold storages, ginning mills and agro service centers, which are found to be the most successful ones,” he adds.

Speaking about the developments in the last one year, he further says, “APICOL is promoting agro service center, which is a centre under which one entrepreneur keeps different agricultural equipments and machineries required for different unit operations in agriculture and made available to the resource poor farmers on use and pay basis to take up timely agricultural operations at a reduced cost and performing the operations qualitatively. One such agro service centre not only provides self employment to the entrepreneur but also provides wage employment to 5 more persons round the year.

Government encourages establishment of commercial agri enterprises and agro service centres as a part of self-employment programme. We are aggressively pursuing this goal since last one year. APICOL supports various other programmes, which are prime movers to commercial agriculture like assured irrigation, increased mechanization etc.”

[hidepost] Current Projects
In Orissa agro industries are considered as priority industries and the incentives such as tax incentives are allowed under Industry Policy Resolution 2001 informs Dr. Behera.
Speaking about the current projects, Dr. Behera says, “We are in the process of establishing one agri export zone for organic ginger and turmeric in Kandhamal and Koraput districts of Orissa. The preliminary work is going on and the exporters will be invited to set up their facilities within the agri export zone.

Setting up their facilities means the processing industries will take up contract farming with the farmers as a part of backward linkage.” When asked to suggest commercially interesting projects that entrepreneurs can decide to set up in the state, Dr. Behera says, “Establishment of integrated cold chain for fruits and vegetables at least in one or two locations in pilot scale will be quite interesting.”

Advantage over Banks
Pointing at the advantages for agri entrepreneurs to go via APICOL to banks instead of directly approaching the commercial banks, Dr. Behera says, “The eligibility of capital investment subsidy will arise only when the project is routed through APICOL. The banks are free to directly consider a proposal. But in such case capital investment subsidy will not be available. It has been our experience that the bankers also like the entrepreneurs to be sponsored by APICOL.”

Capital Investment Subsidy
The organisation helps the entrepreneurs in getting loan from bank besides channelizing incentives such as capital investment subsidy against the enterprises. “There are some identified activities, which are eligible for capital investment subsidy. One enterprise can get maximum 20% of the total project cost subject to a limit of Rs. 20 lakhs. Besides a technical entrepreneur is eligible for 10% additional capital investment subject of course within the overall limit of Rs. 20 lakhs. It is uniform throughout the state,” explains Dr. Behera. “The capital investment subsidy is a great help to the entrepreneurs in terms of improving the economic viability of an enterprise,” he adds.

Various Other Subsidies
Giving information about the different subsidies given to farmers by the state and central government in Orissa, Dr. Behera says, “Under macro management mode (work plan), government of India

subsidies are available for purchase of farm machineries, sprinkler irrigation etc. Similarly under ISOPOM, subsidy on various inputs such as gypsum, bio fertilizers are also provided to the farmers. As you know, under recently launched National Horticulture Mission, 16 districts of the state have been included for integrated horticulture development. Incentives are available for production, processing and value addition.”

Organisation Funds
The state government mainly finances APICOL. For performing the role of nodal agency of MFPI, GoI, the ministry provides recurruring grant to APICOL every year. “Let me reiterate that APICOL is a wholly state owned corporation engaged in promotional activities. We generate little bit of revenues out of the services we render, which is very nominal and from few consultancy assignments. But our establishment cost is met by the state government fully,” informs Dr. Behera.

Dr. Behera took the charges of MD of APICOL since its inception. Dr. Behera is agricultural engineering graduate. “I have done my post graduation in process engineering and P.hd in general management. I am basically a scientist in ICAR system, working with the state government on deputation for past 15 years. I was MD of Orissa Agro Industries Corporation and prior to that MD, Orissa Small Industries Corporation,” he says.

Our Correspondent[/hidepost]

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