World Bank to loan US$210m for agri, rural projects in Maharashtra

The funding will support participation in agriculture value chains, facilitate agri-business investments, increase market access and productivity in focus commodities, and build the resilience of crops to recurrent floods or droughts in the state of Maharashtra

January 24, 2020

The Government of India has enforced several initiatives to empower farmers and encourage innovation, investment, and manufacturing around farming

innovation, investment, and manufacturing around farming The Maharashtra Agribusiness and Rural Transformation Project will help build capacity, increase private investments, expand market access and tackle climate change

Steps already put in place have helped Maharashtra raise production of high-value crops such as fruits and vegetables, pulses, maize and soybean for animal feed

The project will be implemented in all 36 districts of Maharashtra. More than 1 million farming households are expected to directly benefit from the project

The Government of India, the Government of Maharashtra and the World Bank on January 24 signed a loan agreement worth US$210 million to support smallholder farmers. The funding will support participation in agriculture value chains, facilitate agri-business investments, increase market access and productivity in focus commodities, and build the resilience of crops to recurrent floods or droughts in the state of Maharashtra. The Government of India has enforced several initiatives to empower farmers and encourage innovation and manufacturing around farming. The Government has also approved the Agriculture Export Policy, 2018, which is a part of a broader plan to double farmers’ income by 2022

With the funding, the Maharashtra Agribusiness and Rural Transformation Project will also help build capacity of the nodal departments and institutions, increase private sector investments in agricultural value chains, remove constraints for producers and entrepreneurs in accessing emerging domestic and export markets, build the capacity of the state to respond to commodity-price fluctuations by providing access to timely information on markets and production trends, and enhance adoption of climate-resilient production techniques in the state. The project will also help farmers in the region effectively tackle the impact of climate change on farming activities with technology and best practices.

The project will be implemented in all 36 districts of Maharashtra. Over 1 million farming households will directly benefit from the project. Meanwhile, at least 43 per cent of farmers, farm-workers participating in project activities are expected to be women. Additionally, specific focus will be given to women-led enterprises and the participation of women in the decision-making processes of farmer producer bodies. Maharashtra, India’s largest state economy, aims to double agricultural exports and transform the sector into a stable source of growth and economic development. Sustainable agriculture, related industrial activities, and the empowerment of farmers are at the core of India’s US5 trillion economic ambitions. 

Steps already put in place have helped Maharashtra significantly raise production of high-value crops such as fruits and vegetables, pulses as well as maize and soybean for animal feed. Maharashtra has emerged as one of the country’s largest producers and exporters of fruits, vegetables, pulses, cotton, and soybean. Whereas the area under cultivation for cereals such as rice and wheat has been declining since 2000. A shift towards higher-output and high-margin crops has led to several positive outcomes for Maharashtra where production is labour intensive, climate-resilient and in line with local and global market needs. The World Bank funding will help the state get future-ready in agriculture.