The Modi government in order to double the income of farmers by 2022 announced a slew of measures last week, and it is widely expected that these reforms will benefit farmers who are reeling under the Covid-19 crisis.
IANS spoke to Ashok Dalwai, chairman of the Committee for Doubling Farmers' Income, on the issue of strategic reforms initiated by the government and their importance to the farm sector.
He said the alternative market provided to the farmers will give them more earning power. The reforms will unshackle the agriculture value chains by deregulating the essential commodity trade and introducing a Central law to ease inter-state farm trade, effectively overriding the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) mandis that have shown resistance to change in the past.
"We are not ending the APMC, but reforming it. Till now APMC was regulated by the state governments, now the private sector can establish its own APMC which will give an alternative market to farmers," Dalwai said.
He said the way the telecom sector provided options to the consumers to choose the operators of their choice, in the same way the private AMPC will give farmers the choice to sell their produce at a better price anywhere in India.
"The proposed amendment to the Essential Commodities Act of 1955 will ensure seamless movement of farm produce not only inter-state, but also within the state. Anyone having a central license can buy and sell anywhere," Dalwai said.
Dalwai said many states have already adopted the reforms and more will join in the future. "The new law related to APMC will be definitely adopted by the state governments and the Centre will provide the framework for inter-state trade of agricultural produce. If a farmer in UP wants to sell his produce to a market in Karnataka, he does not need to go there. He can do so online. The way e-NAM works for APMC mandis, e-platform will work for such farmers."
He said the amendment to the Essential Commodities Act has been initiated with the sole purpose to provide better prices to the farmers. The government has also decided to free certain categories of agricultural produce such as cereals, pulses, oilseeds, onions and potatoes from the government's control and lend more predictability to even export policies.
On the question of challenges due to Covid-19 with regard to doubling farmers' income, Dalwai said, "The farmers have not been impacted due to the pandemic. There will be no problem in achieving the target of doubling farmers' income by the year 2022."
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