Govt amends Essential Commodities Act, paves way for ‘One India, One Agriculture Market’

Under the proposed amendments, essentials like grains, oil, pulses, potatoes, onions have been excluded from the Essential Commodities Act. ‘Farmers can now export or store these commodities as they wish,’ says Prakash Javadekar.

One India, One Agricultural Market
One India, One Agricultural Market

The Modi Cabinet met on Wednesday for the second time in three days and took several decisions related to farming. The first decision was to approve an amendment to the Essential Commodities Act. According to the government, this amendment will ensure that commodities like cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onion and potatoes will be removed from the list of essential commodities. This will remove the fear of private investors of excessive regulatory interference.

I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar said that this is 50-year-old demand of farmers which has now been fulfilled by the Modi government. This act is an old act that was enacted when there was a food deficit in the country.

The Cabinet also approved Farming Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance 2020 which will pave the way for creating “One India, One Agriculture Market”. Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said that this ordinance will create an ecosystem where farmers and traders will enjoy the freedom of choice of sale and purchase of agriculture produce. He said it would also promote barrier-free, inter-state and intra-state trade and commerce outside the physical premises of markets notified under the state Agricultural Produce Marketing legislations, and this is a “historic step” in unlocking the vastly regulated agriculture markets in the country.

Apart from this, the Cabinet also approved “The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Service Ordinance, 2020”. This ordinance will empower farmers for engaging with processors, wholesalers, aggregators exporters, etc, on a level-playing field without any fear of exploitation. It will also transfer the risk of market unpredictability from the farmer to sponsor. It will also act as a catalyst to attract private sector investment for building supply chains for the supply of India farm produce to the global market. Along with these far-reaching decisions by the Government of India, the Cabinet also approved of setting up of an Empowered Group of Secretaries (EGoS) and Project Development Cells (PDCs) in Ministries/Departments of Government of India for attracting investments in India. As per the government, this new mechanism will reinforce India’s vision of becoming a $5 trillion economy by 2024-25.