Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar (Image: Twitter)
Private companies have developed 38 farm markets in four states with a total investment of over Rs 300 crore in the last three years, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday and added that the new farm laws aim at boosting investment in agri-infrastructure.
As per the 2006 National Commission on Farmers’ Report, the minister said there should be one market to serve 80 square kilometre (sq km), whereas presently one regulated market serves 473 sq km.
In order to realize a greater number of markets in the country and to induce competitiveness and efficiency in the marketing ecosystem, there is a felt need for investment in farm marketing.
"Farm laws aim at promoting agriculture marketing infrastructure and supply chains for efficiently connecting farm gates to markets for the benefit of farmers by encouraging investments," Tomar said in his written reply to the Lower House.
As per the information available from state governments, a total number of 38 private agriculture markets have been developed during the last three years including current year involving total investment of Rs 301.19 crore, he said.
Out of which, 18 markets have been developed in Maharashtra with an investment of Rs 88.62 crore, six markets in Gujarat at Rs 151.6 crore and 12 markets in Rajasthan at Rs 49.75 crore and two markets in Karnataka at Rs 11.22 crore, he added.
Tomar replied in affirmative when asked if new farm laws will have huge scope for private sector investment in agri-markets and improve efficiency of such markets in the country.
The three laws -- The Farmers'' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act -- are intended to improve the efficiency of agri-markets in the country.
The minister said that these farm Acts facilitate direct buying from farmers in trade areas by traders, processors, exporters, Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) and agri co-operative societies so as to facilitate farmers with better price realization to enhance their income, he said.
Further, the minister said the farm laws will "accelerate more investment in marketing and value addition infrastructure including that in storage facilities near to farm gate creating more employment opportunities for rural youth."
Farm laws provide additional marketing opportunities to farmers for selling their produce outside the APMC (agriculture produce marketing committee) market yards such as at farm-gates, cold storages, warehouse, silos, etc. to help farmers get remunerative prices due to additional competition, he added.
Tomar said the new farm laws provide sufficient safeguard mechanisms to protect the interest of farmers including that of small and marginal farmers.
"Simple, accessible, quick and cost effective dispute resolution mechanism is prescribed at local Sub-divisional level and deterring penal provisions have been provided against traders to prevent and curb any violation of the Act by them," he noted.
It may be noted that farmers from Punjab, Haryana and parts of Uttar Pradesh are protesting for more than 100 days at Delhi borders seeking repeal of new farm laws. The stalemate continues as several rounds of talks between the government and protesting farmers'' unions have failed to yield any result.