Farm gate in focal point: On amending Main Commodities Act

The Centre’s aim of the employ of the COVID-19 crisis to herald an Atmanirbhar Bharat saw Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman focal point Friday’s tranche of bulletins on farm sector reforms. The centrepiece used to be a ₹1-lakh crore fund to finance agriculture infrastructure initiatives at the farm gate and slay aggregation aspects. Given that the dearth of enough cold-storage facilities continues to extract a high tag on farmers and the agrarian financial system by diagram of post-harvest losses, especially in perishables, the focused outlay is a welcome step. The resolution to channel the funds to agricultural cooperatives, farmer producer organisations, rural entrepreneurs and moreover encouraging as it lays the onus of developing the correct infrastructure or logistics resolution largely on the main beneficiaries, the farmers themselves. The Minister moreover unveiled a ₹10,000 crore diagram to promote the formalisation of micro food enterprises. Suggesting a cluster capacity centered in utterly different areas on signature slay, Ms. Sitharaman acknowledged the aim used to be to abet unorganised enterprises in scaling up food security standards to safe the products certification and manufacture attach tag. The bundle, though, is seemingly to be extra worthwhile within the longer time duration than providing any instantaneous reduction from the lockdown-exacerbated wound within the agricultural hinterland.

Crucially, the Minister moreover launched three reform proposals which would maybe be ostensibly aimed at enabling better tag realisation for farmers by taking out restrictions and facilitating enhanced advertising and marketing and marketing freedom. These embody amendments to the 1955-vintage Main Commodities Act that may maybe effectively hollow out the rules by deregulating cereals, pulses, oilseeds, suitable for eating oils, onions and potato. Whereas the Financial Peek, in January, had suggested jettisoning the “anachronistic” Act, the regulation has on the opposite hand remained a important machine within the authorities’s armoury for safeguarding customers from irrational volatility within the costs of essentials by tamping down on gloomy marketeers and hoarders. Whereas the Act’s provisions cease fill scope for an overzealous paperwork to annoy even an beautiful exporter, who can fill paid a sexy tag to the farmer and stocked slay for cargo foreign, complete deregulation for foodgrains is fraught with the threat of future inflationary food tag spikes. The opposite two proposals are moreover of self-discipline. Whereas one seeks to circumvent the APMC regime thru a central regulation that may maybe allow farmers the liberty to promote across Enlighten borders, the opposite proposes a framework for farmers to enter into pre-sowing contracts that may maybe purportedly succor voice them of offtake volumes and costs. Both the adjustments, as soon as enacted, may presumably privilege market forces without necessarily safeguarding food security. Absolutely, it’d be in no person’s curiosity to throw the toddler out with the bathwater.

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