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3.0 Lockdown: Govt Plans Major Agricultural Reforms for Post-Coronavirus

Pronami Chetia
Pronami Chetia

In midst of the 3.0 nationwide lockdown, the government is planning to outline an ambitious post-pandemic agenda for agricultural reform. Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked his top ministers and bureaucrats on Saturday to start working on a new set of reforms to cut down on archaic regulations, raise farm-gate prices, unify domestic markets as well as integrate the farm economy into global value chains.

These have been demands by key farmer groups as well as a range of economists and agricultural experts over the years.   

The PM suggested these reforms at a high-level review meeting on the agricultural sector, which was also attended by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, home minister Amit Shah, agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar and senior officials.

One Nation, One Market

As per reports, PM sought further reforms in agricultural marketing, which is a reference to the mandi system that controls buying and selling of farm produce, among other issues. He said he was not averse to bringing “appropriate” new laws or changing old ones to firmly integrate farm markets across the country so that cultivators and traders can transact without restrictions. “Essentially, he wanted one nation, one market,” said a top official familiar with the deliberations of the meeting.

Moreover, COVID-19 pandemic has pressured farm incomes, upending the farm-to-fork supply chain, despite full exemptions to the farm sector. A nationwide curfew caught farmers by surprise on March 24. During its the initial days, labour shortage and empty wholesale markets led farmers to dump new harvest, especially perishables.

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