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Union Cabinet approves amendment to Essential Commodities Act

Thursday, 04 Jun 2020
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The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 3 June 2020 approved several decisions to transform the agriculture sector and also help farmers.  
The Union Cabinet approved amendment to the Essential Commodities Act.
With the amendment to the Act, commodities like cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onion and potatoes will be removed from the list of essential commodities. This will remove fears of private investors of excessive regulatory interference in their business operations.
The freedom to produce, hold, move, distribute and supply will lead to harnessing of economies of scale and attract private sector/foreign direct investment into the sector. It will help drive up investment in cold storages and modernisation of food supply chain.
The government, while liberalising the regulatory environment, has also ensured that interests of consumers are safeguarded. It has been provided in the Amendment that in situations such as war, famine, extraordinary price rise and natural calamity, such agricultural foodstuff can be regulated.
However, the installed capacity of a value chain participant and the export demand of an exporter will remain exempted from such stock limit imposition so as to ensure that investments in agriculture are not discouraged.
The amendment announced will help both farmers and consumers while bringing in price stability.  It will create competitive market environment and also prevent wastage of agri-produce that happens due to lack of storage facilities.
The Cabinet approved 'The Farming Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020'.
The Ordinance will create an ecosystem where farmers and traders will enjoy freedom of choice of sale and purchase of agri-produce. It will also promote barrier-free inter-state and intra-state trade and commerce outside the physical premises of markets notified under State Agricultural Produce Marketing legislations. 
The ordinance also proposes an electronic trading in transaction platform for ensuring a seamless trade electronically.
Farmers will not be charged any cess or levy for sale of their produce under the Act. Further, there will be a separate dispute resolution mechanism for farmers.
The ordinance basically aims at creating additional trading opportunities outside APMC market yards to help farmers get remunerative prices due to additional competition. This will supplement the existing MSP procurement system which is providing stable income to farmers.
It will certainly pave the way for creating One India, One Agriculture Market and lay the foundation for ensuring golden harvests for farmers.
The Cabinet also approved ‘The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020’.
The ordinance will empower farmers for engaging with processors, wholesalers, aggregators, wholesalers, large retailers, exporters etc, on a level playing field without any fear of exploitation.
It will transfer the risk of market unpredictability from the farmer to the sponsor and also enable the farmer to access modern technology and better inputs. It will reduce cost of marketing and improve income of farmers.
This Ordinance will act as a catalyst to attract private sector investment for building supply chains for supply of Indian farm produce to global markets. Farmers will get access to technology and advice for high value agriculture and get ready market for such produce.
Also through PM KISAN, over 9.54 crore farmer families (as on first June 2020) have benefited and an amount of Rs 19,515 crore has been disbursed so far during the lockdown period. An amount of Rs 8,090 crore has been paid during lockdown period under PMFBY.


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