A parliamentary panel on Thursday rapped the government for slow pace of modernisation of 22,000 village haats across the country and asked it to set a deadline for revamping rural marketplaces.
The panel also suggested the government to take steps towards making the scheme of modernising village haats 'GrAM' as a fully funded central scheme.
It also asked the government to take urgent steps for setting up of a committee of state agriculture ministers for early adoption of Model Agriculture Produce and Livestock Market Committee (APML) Act, 2017.
Placing its report in the Lok Sabha, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture headed by BJP member P C Gaddigoudar said: "The committee is astonished to know that none of revamped and modernised gramin haats has been inaugurated so far".
The committee is of the view that gramin haats have potential to change the face of marketing of agriculture produce in the country and can significantly enhance the income of farmers.
"The committee, therefore, desire the department (of agriculture) to take all the necessary steps to enhance the pace of modernisation of gramin haats across the country and set a deadline for each state," the report said.
The report was on the action taken by the government on the recommendation of the panel on the issue of agriculture marketing and gramin haats.
The panel had recommended the government to finalise procedural formalities for early implementation of GrAM scheme, enhance number of gramin haats being targeted for modernisation under the scheme and ensure presence of one gramin haat in each panchayat in the country, besides exempting such haats from state APMC regulations.
Stating that the governments' replies were not satisfying, the committee said the Union Agriculture Ministry has informed that it is undertaking questionnaire-based survey of these haats, and so far survey of more than 11,000 rural haats have already been completed. The survey results has been shared with the Rural Development Ministry for development of basic infrastructure through MNREGA scheme by states.
Further, the ministry informed that it has circulated guidelines to all states and union territories to facilitate and promote better management in GrAMs and requested states to exempt the GrAMs from state APMC regulations, the committee said in the report.
The ministry has also informed that the physical infrastructure is being strengthened through MNREGA scheme and the government has also approved an Agri-Market Infrastructure Fund (AMIF) with a corpus of Rs 2,000 crore with the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) for developing and upgrading agriculture marketing infrastructure in 10,000 gramin haats and 585 APMC markets, it added.
With regard to funding for gramin haat modernisation, the committee said the availability of central government funds is necessary for expeditious completion of works under the GrAM scheme as "indecisiveness" of state governments regarding financing of works for such haats will delay the ambitious project.
"The committee, therefore, once again reiterate to make 'GrAMs scheme' as the fully funded central scheme," the report said.
In the 2018-19 Budget, the government had announced development and upgradation of existing 22,000 village haats to GrAMs.
With regard to the model APLM Act, the committee said it is anguished to note that despite specific recommendation, the government has not taken any step for constitution of a committee of state agriculture ministers in order to arrive at a consensus and chalk out legal framework for marketing of agriculture produce in the country.
"Unless urgent steps are not taken to reform platform for agriculture marketing and specifically APMC, farmers of our country will not be able to get remunerative pricing for their produce," the committee said and urged the government to take initiative in this regard without any further delay.
The government has informed that so far Arunachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh have adopted the law while Punjab has done it partially. And other states are at varied stages in the process of adoption, it added.