Establishment of retail agriculture markets to enable small and marginal farmers transact in a more efficient manner, broad-based procurement system for all agriculture produce and an Act on contract farming are among the key recommendations expected to find place in the final report of the Committee on Doubling Farmers’ Income.

Chairman of the committee Ashok Dalwai, who was here to participate in the ICAR-Indian Institute of Oilseeds Research (IIOR) seminar on vegetable oils production on Saturday, said the final report on doubling the farmers’ income would basically focus on five aspects – increasing productivity, reducing cost of cultivation, improving marketing efficiency of farmers, managing risks involved in agriculture and sustainability.

Speaking on sidelines of the event Mr. Dalwai, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of National Rain-fed Area Authority (NRAA), said there was risk involved at every stage of agriculture since 64% of the total sown area in the country, 78 million hectares out of 121.87 million hectares, was rain-fed and it calls for improving efficiency at every level in farming. “Existing technologies are resource-intensive and as resources such as water and land are getting scarce there’s need for sustainable technologies,” he stated.

The inter-ministerial committee headed by Mr. Dalwai has already submitted 14 volumes of reports to the Centre and the final report is due. Suggesting that farmers were required to diversify into allied activities such as horticulture, animal husbandry, dairy, fisheries and others Mr. Dalwai said the approach should be to sustain food security and achieve income security. Stating that the existing agriculture produce market committees were mainly wholesale markets, there was need to promote and establish retail agriculture markets, where small and marginal farmers could aggregate their produce and have a better say in transactions. Simultaneously, the import policies should be framed keeping in mind the farmers so as to make domestic prices farmer-friendly, he explained.

He stated that the Centre was working on a broad-based procurement policy for all crops by fixing the minimum support price at least at 1.5 times of the production cost. The contract farming and services act proposed by the Centre would also be beneficial to the farming community as they would be assured of better inputs, better extension services and better marketing facilities by entering into contract with companies, Mr. Dalwai added.

Source:http://www.thehindu.com

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