Agri Business

Chief Ministers’ panel pitches for private investment, technology in agriculture

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on July 18, 2019 Published on July 18, 2019

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis   -  File photo

A high-powered committee of Chief Ministers for the transformation of Indian agriculture met here on Thursday. The discussion focussed on the immediate need to accelerate the growth of the food processing industry, which is growing at a mere 1 per cent annually, and find ways to encourage the infusion of technology and private investment to modernise agriculture.

The committee held its first meeting amid the prevailing farm distress in the country and growing discontent among farmers over shrinking income levels. It had been formed after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s suggestion at the General Council of NITI Aayog recently.

Digitisation all-through

The meeting, chaired by Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, stressed on the need to digitise the entire agricultural process, from sowing and marketing to using drones and satellites for crop surveillance. It also called for bringing down the cost of institutional credit available for farming.

The Chief Ministers said there should be more coordination between the ministries of Agriculture and Commerce. Apart from reviewing the Essential Commodities Act (ECA), 1955, ways and means need to be found to give better market access to farmers, they said.

The committee also discussed measures for the transformation of agriculture and raising farmers’ income. The CMs took stock of the modalities for adoption and time-bound implementation of the measure by the States/UTs.

Market mechanisms

Gujarat Chief Minister Viay Rupani underlined the need for reforms in the agriculture market mechanisms and relaxing the norms in the ECA for the benefit of small traders and farmers.

Small traders, farmer-producer organisations and other institutions that produce crop for which minimum support price is declared by the Centre should get exemption from the ECA, he said. He called for bringing in reforms in the market mechanism for agricultural produce and emphasised that a farmer’s income should be calculated based on his profits.

“If a farmer uses the storage facility, which is associated with the market, he should be provided with warehouse receipt/credit (loan) facility. Establishing local storage facilities could help the cause,” Rupani said.

The meeting was also attended by Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, Arunachal Chief Minister Pema Khandu and NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant. While Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath participated in it through video conferencing, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath sent in his suggestions.

The committee will meet again on August 16 in Mumbai.

Published on July 18, 2019
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