New Delhi; Three bills aimed at the transformation of agriculture in the country and raising farmers’ income were introduced in the Lok Sabha on Monday to replace ordinances promulgated on June 5.
Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare Minister Narendra Singh Tomar tabled the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 in the House.
The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was introduced by Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, Raosaheb Patil Danve.
Tomar said that the measures contained in the new laws will enable barrier-free trade in agricultural produce, and also empower farmers to engage with investors of their choice. “These steps are only the latest in a series of measures taken by the government, which shows its continuous commitment to championing the cause of welfare of the farmers of India,” he said.
Responding to the members opposing the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, Tomar said that this measure will enable farmers to decide the prices of their products and they will be free to sell their produce wherever they want.
This bill seeks to provide for the creation of an ecosystem where the farmers and traders enjoy the freedom of choice relating to sale and purchase of farmers’ produce which facilitates remunerative prices through competitive alternative trading channels to promote efficient, transparent and barrier-free intra- and inter-state trade and commerce of farmers’ produce outside physical premises of markets or deemed markets notified under various state agricultural produce market legislations.
It will also provide a facilitative framework for electronic trading.
The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 seeks to provide for a national framework on farming agreements that protects and empowers farmers to engage with agri-business firms, processors, wholesalers, exporters or large retailers for farm services and sale of future farming produce at a mutually agreed remunerative price framework in a fair and transparent manner.
The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 seeks to remove commodities like cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onion and potatoes from the list of essential commodities.
The government maintains that as India has become surplus in most agri-commodities, farmers have been unable to get better prices due to lack of investment in cold storage, warehouses, processing and export as the entrepreneurial spirit gets dampened due to the Essential Commodities Act.
Noting farmers suffer huge losses when there are bumper harvests, especially of perishable commodities, an official statement said that this legislation will help drive up investment in cold storages and modernisation of food supply chain.
It will create a competitive market environment and also prevent wastage of agri-produce that happens due to lack of storage facilities, as per the statement.