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Espousing major agri reform agenda, the Yogi Adityanath government is gearing up to amend Uttar Pradesh Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act, 1964 for providing greater options to the state farmers to sell farm output at better prices. The state also favours private investment in the vast state agricultural marketing set up for maximising farmers’ income and weeding our middlemen. The amendment would be an epoch-making agri sector reform, one which has been long overdue, although the proposed amendment to the APMC Act has been cited as an imperative for a large agricultural producer like UP. Several state governments have already amended their respective APMC Acts in the interest of farmers. The state’s sloppy government controlled agricultural marketing/procurement system has been blamed for low procurement of wheat and paddy compared to total production and procurement targets over successive years. The amendment would open the vast network of agricultural marketing committees (mandi samitis) in UP for private entities, who would be able to invest and make a direct purchase from farmers. Besides, it would spur setting up of food processing and allied industries as well, since they would be able to directly buy from farmers for better inventory and cost management, apart from little or no bureaucratic hiccups. For example, a rice mill could directly buy from farmers rather than procuring through government controlled and regulated markets. Chairing a meeting here last evening, Yogi has asked the agricultural department mandarins to prepare an action plan for necessary amendments to the APMC Act.
He stressed traders and farmers should be accorded representation in the agricultural marketing committees operating in the state. At present, there are around 250 mandi samitis functioning across the 75 districts of UP.The CM underlined these committees be made accountable to farmers, who should exercise the freedom of choice to sell their produce at mutually negotiated prices. Meanwhile, Yogi has directed the food and civil supplies department for making adequate provision for cold storages and warehouses in the state. He also made amply clear that the agri markets should function with transparency and be shorn of middlemen and brokers. The previous Akhilesh Yadav government (2012-17) had also mulled of amending the APMC Act to facilitate direct marketing and purchase of agricultural produce from farmers by traders, exporters and food processing units. Although the socialist regime of Akhilesh was staunchly opposed to the FDI in retail, the proposed amendment would have opened the gates for the multinationals in the procurement of food grain. In fact, the preliminary work for the proposed amendments had been made by the UP Mandi Parishad (State Agricultural Produce Marketing Board), but it never materialised. The Yogi government is working towards maximising the farm income and doubling it in the next 5 years in line with the Centre’s theme.