Niti Aayog backs direct buying from farmers

NEW DELHI: Official think tank Niti Aayog is pushing for a legislature to allow direct buying of agriculture produce from farmers, a move meant to help farmers and buyers fetch better prices and do away with middlemen. The model Agriculture Produce and Livestock Marketing (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2017, prepared by agriculture ministry in consultation with Niti Aayog, provides for making entire state’s designated area for farmers to sell their produce, single trader licence, single levy of taxes, and electronic auctioning of crop produce.

Big agricultural states such as Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh have responded well to the model Act, officials said. “Majority of states have shown willingness to implement the Act with Punjab likely to roll out as early as its next assembly session,” Niti Aayog member Ramesh Chand said.

Agriculture is a state subject and hence it is essential that states support and implement the model Act mooted by the Centre. The existing Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act has not been implemented by majority of states, as a result of which farmers continue to be exploited by the middlemen.
Niti Aayog had recently called a meeting of state agriculture ministers to seek their support to the Centre's multi-pronged initiative towards doubling farmers' income by 2022. The Aayog has estimated that a cultivator earns not more than Rs 10,000 and unless a special effort is made by states it would take over 20 years to double this to Rs 20,000 as against 10 years needed in general to double the non-farm income.

It has outlined half a dozen key interventions that can help reduce the gap between farm and nonfarm income. These include an average 33% increase in crop production, enabling use of cost-effective technological interventions that can improve efficiency, giving better prices to farmers by ensuring no states give below the MSP for their produce, creating employment opportunities for farmers in non-farm sectors by setting up labour intensive industries.

“Ownership of states for doubling farmers' income is important. We are here to protect the interest of producers and consumers,” Chand said.

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