Maya govt acting on whims, says Sahay

Government

Union Minister for Food Processing Industries Subodh Kant Sahay condemned the state government for not amending the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committees Act to facilitate private investment in the farm sector something that 16 states, including neighbouring Bihar, have done.

Sahay was in Lucknow on Thursday to campaign for Congress candidate Shyam Kishore Shukla in Lucknow (West) Assembly by-election.

"The state cannot develop if the government acts on whims. If the state government really wants to see its farmers prosper, then the amendment is necessary. But for Mayawati, Dalits and farmers are merely a votebank," he said. The Centre had written to the UP government several times even sent reminders but "they hardly replied to any of these in a proper manner," claimed Sahay.

According to him, though the state government amended the Act in 2007, it went back on it within a few days, saying farmers had opposed it. "But the fact is that the amendment would only help farmers in a big way," the minister said.

The amendments, suggested by the Centre four years ago, are meant to enable corporate houses and processing units to buy farm produce directly from farmers. At present, farmers cannot enter into a direct contract with the manufacturer because their produce has to go through the regulated market monitored by the state government. The amendments will also enable farmers to enter into contract farming with the private sector.

"In the present scenario, the development of agriculture is difficult without post-harvest management. For this, not only there is a need to amend the agri-produce marketing act but also a separate food processing policy. The sooner the state government realises it, the better it will be," said Sahay. He claimed that various schemes of the Union Food Processing Ministry provide funds up to Rs 50 crore to set up mega food parks, but UP has not shown any interest.

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