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AGRICULTURE

Three agriculture and farm trade bills game change for Indian farmers: Dr BR Jagashetty
Saturday, 10 October, 2020, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Nandita Vijay, Bengaluru
Union government’s effort to table the three agriculture and farm trade bills are game changer for Indian agriculture. The three legislations: Famers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation ), Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Bill, Agreement on Price Assurance Services 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) 2020, are  steps in the right direction, according to Dr B R Jagashetty, former National Adviser (Drugs Control) to MoHFW & CDSCO.

These Bills relate to extensive changes relating to marketing and trading of farm produce like crops, fruits and vegetables as they seek to create a common platform for farm produce sale. This apparently reduces the marketing system based on the APMC (Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees). “The new Bills also facilitate contract farming in a major way and also lift the restrictions on holding stocks,” he added.

On similar lines, government needs maintain the momentum of introducing regulations by bringing in the  much-delayed e-pharmacy notification which should have been parallelly announced with the National Digital Health Scheme on August 15, according to him.

While the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill enables marketing of harvest outside the APMC, with no state levies, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance Service, permits contract farming and direct marketing. The Essential Commodities (Amendment) 2020 decontrols production, storage and marketing of cereals, pulses, edible oils and onions.

However, the minimum support price (MSP) mechanism for major farm produce and procurement by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) that helped to stabilise the prices of farm produce could be in jeopardy. “This is even as the government assures both APMC and MSP will continue. This is despite the fact that APMC contributes to a major chunk of the revenues to the state exchequer,” he said.

Noting that the new legislations bring in more freedom and choices to the farming community which is the backbone of the country, Dr Jagashetty said this happened even with whatsoever no consultations with the farmers. The states too were not a part of the discussion although agriculture like healthcare is a state subject.

The big transformation that has come in on the farming landscape is that any agency including corporate houses can buy any amount of produce from farmers. “Modernisation from farms to the market will be extensive. There will be increased efficiency, transparency and dependable revenue generation for farmers. The agriculturists will gain from competition. More important is that the farming community will be safeguarded from exploitation of middle men,” stated Dr Jagashetty.
 
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