PM-led meet dwells on crop biotech, format for capital infusion in farming

The meeting is part of the series of such deliberations that Prime Minister Modi is having on various sector in the aftermath of Covid-19 crisis
In a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi today, the government deliberated on the possibility of a uniform statutory framework in the country for infusing capital and technology in the agriculture sector through newer ways.

It also discussed pros and cons of biotechnology in the crop sector, along with fast-tracking reforms in agriculture marketing, according to a statement issued after the meeting.

Developing the Electronic-National Agriculture Market (e-NaM) platform into a ‘platform of platforms’ for e-commerce trade was discussed in the meeting as well.

Yesterday, the government added 200 new mandis to the e-NaM platform taking the total to 785.

The meeting is part of the series of such deliberations that Prime Minister Modi is having on various sector in the aftermath of Covid-19 crisis. Sources said in today's meeting apart from the Prime Minister and PMO bureaucrats, Home Minister Amit Shah and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also participated. Both the Home Minister and Finance Minister have been part of earlier deliberations on other sectors as well.

Officials in the know said that these sectoral meetings are doubling up as forums to discuss relief measures for various sectors and stakeholders.

There will be some more sectoral meetings on Sunday as well. 

“There are no separate meetings to discuss the package. The needs of various sectors, small and medium enterprises, farmers, workers and others are being discussed in the relevant sectoral meetings. These discussions will find their way to any package that is announced,” said an official. 

Meanwhile, according to the statement, Prime Minister Modi in today's meeting on agriculture stressed on the need for management of marketable surplus, access of farmers to institutional credit.

He also underlined the need for freeing agriculture sector of various restrictions with appropriate backing of statute.

The focus of the deliberations was also on making strategic interventions in the existing marketing eco-system and bringing appropriate reforms.

Issues related to cheap credit to agriculture infrastructure, special drives to saturate Kisan Credit Card penetration and PM-KISAN beneficiaries along with facilitating inter-state and intra-state trade in agriculture produce to ensure fairest return to farmer were some of the important areas covered.

Agriculture accounts for 15 per cent of India's gross domestic product and is a source of livelihood for more than half of the country's 1.3 billion population.

The government has maintained that the country's farm sector is functioning smoothly despite the Covid-19 lockdown and there will not be much impact on its growth in the current fiscal, unlike other sectors.

The challenges of the Model Agricultural Land Leasing Act, 2016 and how to protect the interest of small and marginal farmers was discussed in detail.

Ways to make the Essential Commodities Act compatible with present times so that large-scale private investment in post-production agriculture infrastructure is incentivized, and how it has a positive effect on commodity derivative markets, was also discussed.

Developing ‘Brand India', creation of commodity specific boards/councils and promotion of agri-clusters or contract farming are some of the interventions that were deliberated to boost agriculture commodity export.

The use of technology in the agriculture sector is of paramount importance as it has the potential to unlock the entire value chain for the benefit of farmers.

Modi emphasised on the dissemination of technology till the last mile and making farmers more competitive in the global value chain.

It was decided to further strengthen the role of Farmers Producer Organisations (FPOs) to bring vibrancy in agrarian economy, transparency in agriculture trade and enable maximum benefits to the farmers.

Overall emphasis was on revisiting the existing laws governing market for better price realisation and freedom of choice to the farmers, the statement said. The growth rate of agriculture and allied sector's growth stood at 3.7 per cent during the 2019-20 fiscal. 

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