UP set to unveil new marketing plan for farm sector

Though the ruling Samajwadi Party government in UP is firmly against FDI in retail, it is set to give farmers in the state some freedom in selling their produce. Eyeing an ambitious 5% growth in agriculture, chief minister Akhilesh Yadav is all set to make sweeping amendments to the state's Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act, 1964, facilitating direct marketing of agricultural produce.

To bring the benefit of competitive market forces in the farm sector, as many as 19 states in the country have amended the archaic APMC Act. While states such as Maharashtra have implemented the model APMC Act envisaged by the Centre, others like Punjab and Haryana have adopted it only partially.

The UP government's latest move signifies that the marketing of farm products in the state could gradually be thrown open to private players.

According to sources in the state government, the entry of the private sector in the state's vegetable and fruit market is fast becoming a reality. However, in order to avoid the volte face that the previous Mayawati government did on the APMC Act in 2007, the SP government is treading cautiously on the sensitive topic and is trying to work out a broad consensus on the corporate entry into the sector. "A group of ministers headed by the agriculture minister had been set up to deliberate on this issue and it has already agreed upon in principle that the APMC Act needs to be amended in order to fix the conditions of the farmers. In fact, we have already got a green signal on it from the chief minister, too. In order to proceed on it, we are now trying to work out the amendments that need to be made in the Centre's model APMC Act to suit the needs in our state. The draft proposal on an ideal APMC Act is being framed by the Mandi Parishad and we are also planning to have a brainstorming session on it in which resource persons in this field from all over the country will be invited. We will study how other states have implemented on the policy and the responses thereafter. More than the policy it is the implementation that is important as it entails some very sensitive issues such as contract farming in it," said an official requesting anonymity.

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