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ITC plans 7500 farm demo plots
Business Standard - 22 Nov 2006

As part of its e-choupal initiative, ITC is planning to set up 7,500 Choupal Pradarshan Khets (CPK) or demonstration plots in the 2006-07 rabi season in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. This will enable a higher productivity for farmers and ensure better quality of procurement for the company.

This rabi season, the CPK will focus on crops, such as wheat, mustard and pulses. In the last rabi season, 415 CPKs were set up.

“The purpose would be to demonstrate the best farming practices available to the farmer. These practices would be customised to the individual context of each farmer,” said S Sivakumar, chief executive, agri business, ITC.

The demonstration plots will complement the information available on the e-choupal website. Farmers are best convinced about certain recommended practices only when they experience a demonstration on their own farms.

Under the CPK initiative, high-quality farm inputs will also be made available to the farmer at his doorstep to improve adoption. As an added incentive, the CPK farmers will be eligible for weather insurance package at a discounted premium. “It has been observed that many farmers do not invest in all the recommended inputs because of the potential financial risk in case the weather turns adverse.

The insurance would mitigate this risk,” added Sivakumar. The benefits to farmers will come in the form of increased yield, improved quality and reduced costs of production, apart from valuable knowledge transfer. It has been observed that farmers’ income rose by 15 to 40 per cent in this kharif season, he said.

ITC had set up 7,500 CPKs in the 2006 kharif season that focused on crops, such as maize, paddy and soybean. With 7,500 more CPKs in the rabi season, ITC’s initiative would probably be the largest in the country by any private sector company.