Niti Aayog working with states for agri market reforms

Aiming to double farmers' income by 2022, the federal think-tank Niti Aayog today said it is working with states to adopt first set of agri market reforms, including contract farming, online spot and futures trading besides encouraging private investment.

Following a direction from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a comprehensive agenda has been prepared to bring transformation in agriculture, which has not been liberalised like other sectors since 1991, it said.

Speaking at a Nasscom-Yes Bank event on role of digital technologies in driving agri business growth, Niti Aayog Member Ramesh Chand said the regulatory reforms have been "slow, patchy and absolute" in the agriculture sector.

Main emphasis is being given on bringing marketing reforms to facilitate and incentivise the private sector to invest in agri logistics and cold chains, among others, he added.

Among the first set of reforms, Chand said contract farming has to be promoted and for which a model law has been framed both by the think-tank and the agriculture ministry.

"Hopefully, we will combine the both and come out with a final version of model contract farming, which will be shared with states for adoption," he said.

To promote derivative trading in farm commodities, Chand said the finance ministry has set up a panel.

He also expressed happiness that farmers in the North- East and Madhya Pradesh are using the futures trading platform for selling their produce. Even integration of mandis with the electronic National Agriculture Market (eNAM) is picking up.

The Niti Aayog has also proposed scrapping of the Essential Commodities Act that is destabilising prices rather than keeping them stable, he added.

"These are the first set of reforms which we are working with states to adopt as the world is moving ahead fast. We are witnessing a lot of digitisation. It is not waiting for India's elementary level of reforms in the agri sector," Chand observed.

A lot need to be done to take technologies to the field level, he noted and called for adopting science-based agriculture.