In an exclusive interview with, Yogesh Thorat, Chairman, Maha Farmers Producer Company Limited, Maharashtra we discussed his top 3 recommendations to the new Government for the Agriculture sector and the biggest hit and miss in this sector in the last 5 years by the government.
ET-Insights: What are top 3 policy changes/initiatives for your sector you expect/recommend to the new government that will be formed?
Yogesh: As in the beginning of the new year and during interim Union budget announcement 2019, it was felt that campaigning and electoral agenda will revolve around the farm issues and agrarian distress. However, momentum of agrarian issues was not maintained during the election process. Therefore,many issues of the sector remained unaddressed by the ruling and opposition parties. I expect / recommend following three key policy changes for the upcoming new government.
Firstly, Agriculture marketing reforms should be legitimised with the spirit of competitive federalism.One nation one agriculture market idea should be properly executed by protecting the interest of the local farmers. Private sector investment along with FDI & FII should be promoted in Agriculture marketing.
Secondly,Agriculture pricing policies should be defined for long run. Assuring minimum support prices to the farmers is the agenda of any government however, modus operandi for delivering the price support is not yet very crystal clear. Hence,demand and supply mismatch within domestic markets and influence of the global value chains impact small and marginal farmers.Hybrid model of physical procurement and Price deficiency payment support conceptualised under centrally sponsored scheme of PM-AASHA should be explored and implemented properly.
Thirdly, Budgetary support to the farm sector need to be revamped. Existing support for Access to critical inputs like seed, fertiliser etc.should be restructured. Modi governments KISAN SAMMAN & Congress Party’s NYAY Scheme are populist ones but such schemes / announcement are making huge pressure on the exchequer. Therefore, Strategic areas for Public investment like value chain should be defined and expenditure should be done accordingly.
ET-Insights: What has been the biggest hit and miss from the government for your respective sector in the last 5 years?
Yogesh: Demonetisation was the biggest shock to the cash driven agriculture economy. Problem of Surplus and consequences of demonetisation was overlapped & badly affected Agri commodity markets. Drought situation affected the agrarian production economy. But, centre’s response to tackle the these disaster was not systemic which showed inefficiency of the government machinery particularly in case of crop insurance etc.
Also, Prime Ministers pet projects like eNAM didn’t take off. Value addition through food processing was not boosted despite launching KISAN Sampada and TOP Scheme by MoFPI.
In case of trade and commerce, GOI has taken quick decisions regarding import and export policies to reduce the impact of the global supply chains. Fundamental policy changes were initiated. GOI launched various schemes for the increasing farm income through Doubling Farm income by 2022 program. It brought new thought process and innovations . Start up culture brought youth in agriculture in the area of ICT and artificial intelligence and IT enabled supply chains of Agri commodities.