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Implementing new farm laws to take agriculture to new heights : Niti member

Implementing in the right spirit will take Indian agriculture to new heights.
This was said by Niti Aayog member Ramesh Chand in a paper titled ‘New Firm Acts: Understanding the Implication’, Chand said the reforms have generated optimism for India to become a global power in agriculture and a powerhouse for global food supply.
“In a nutshell, the three policy reforms undertaken by the central government through the three new laws are in keeping with the changing times and requirements of farmers and farming.
“If they are implemented in the right spirit, they will take Indian agriculture to new heights and usher in the transformation of the rural economy,” he said.
On September 27, President Ram Nath Kovind gave assent to the three Bills — The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020; The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020; and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill 2020.
Stating that policy reforms in agriculture continue to be a hot topic in public discourse for the past two decades, Chand said, “The ‘business as usual’ approach was yielding only incremental changes, whereas the sector needed transformative ones to address agrarian distress.”
Commenting on the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce Act (FPTC Act), he said it gives the freedom to sell and buy farm produce at any place in the country, within APMC mandis or outside them.
“It has no intent or provision to tamper or dilute MSP (minimum support price), and poses no threat by itself to APMC markets,” Chand said.
The real threat to APMC mandis and their business is from excessive and unjustified charges levied by states in these markets, he said.
The new FPTC Act will only put pressure on APMC markets to become competitive, he added.
On the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, Chand said the Act is inclined towards farmers and no party is bound to continue with the agreement beyond the agreed period.
“The Act will promote diversification, quality production for premium price, export and direct sale of produce with desired attributes to interested consumers. It will also bring new capital and knowledge into agriculture and pave the way for farmers’ participation in the value chain,” he said.

Referring to amendments to the Essential Commodities Act (ECA), Chand said the modification specifies transparent criteria in terms of price trigger for imposing ECA rather than leaving it to arbitrary decisions by bureaucrats to invoke the Act.
The power of the government to impose ECA remains intact as has been seen in the decision to impose stock limit on onions after the modification in ECA, he said adding, “There is nothing in this modification against farmers.”
Chand also said the modification in ECA will attract much-needed private investments in agriculture from input to post-harvest activities.

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