New Delhi: Deregulation of essential farm produce like cereals and oilseeds from the ambit of the Essential Commodities Act, plan for Central law to enable farmers to sell their produce in the most remunerative manner and a legal framework for assured price to the agri producers are the path-breaking reforms announced by Finance Minister Mrs Nirmala Sitharaman today, ASSOCHAM Secretary General Mr Deepak Sood said.
”The Rs 1 lakh crore fund for strengthening post-harvest agriculture infrastructure with the help of aggregators, Farmer Producers Organisations (FPOs), cooperatives and even the start-ups in the farm sector would go a long way in modernising Indian agriculture, connecting more with the value chain of food -processing. The government must also be complimented for walking on a twin-track of providing immediate relief to the farmers who are distressed due to lockdown, and ushering in landmark reforms like deregulation of sale of produce like cereals, edible oil, oilseeds etc ,” the ASSOCHAM Secretary General said.
He said, the third part of the Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi’s Rs 20 lakh crore economic package is, in a way, expressing national gratitude to our farmers who have toiled hard despite the odds of a difficult lockdown and maintained the supply chain of essential food products.
”Given the large diversity of our agriculture and allied sectors, including animal husbandry and fisheries, and pre-dominance of small and marginal farmers, a lot of detailing seems to have gone into today’s package, which is a combination of relief and reforms, ” Mr Sood said.
Lauding the announcement for a central law to enable farmers sell produce in a wider national market, the ASSOCHAM Secretary General said, “The existing APMC Act, should be totally revamped and a greater Centre-State coordination in the agriculture sector , on the lines of the GST Council, should be considered. The agriculture sector has made tremendous contributions for India’s food security which is a key pillar of the Prime Minister’s call for self-reliance. Remunerative prices for our farmers , along with their empowerment would further fortify this sector . We can be the food basket of the world with value-added products. Rs 10,000 crore fund for enterprises in specialized clusters would enable the areas with specific advantage, to be world class in the value chain,” he said.
Focus on marine exports with modern facilities with intention to double India’s fishery products would be of great help to our coastal states, whereas promotion of bee-keeping would contribute to empowerment of micro farming units, especially the women in the hilly regions.
As the Finance Minister has rolled out three tranches of the bigger Rs 20 lakh crore package, “the ASSOCHAM remains committed to work with the government in coping with the Covid-19 pandemic challenge, saving both lives and livelihood, Mr Sood said.