Farm sector reforms: Do they sow the seeds of well-being for farmers?
Ms Nirmala Sitharaman, the Finance Minister of India has announced reforms in the agriculture sector as part of the special economic package to overcome the economic and livelihood issues emerging due to the lockdown necessitated by the COVID 19 pandemic.
A set of specific reforms and investments, targeted at the food and agriculture sector is expected to have long-term impacts. The proposed reforms in Essential Commodities Act – deregulation of agricultural produce including cereals, edible oils, oilseeds, pulses, onions and potatoes and limiting the stock limit impositions to special circumstances is a bold move. This measure, considered to be long overdue, needs to be carefully implemented avoiding any chances of their being used as an opportunity for unethical interventions in the commodity market.
Allowing farmers to sell agriculture produce to any buyer across the country is aimed at getting a better price for their produce. However, a series of preparatory initiatives are required for an effective implementation of this reform. Ensuring quality control and good transportation, and ensuring a low carbon footprint of the food and agriculture sector are key.
Similarly, reforms to facilitate forward linkages of agriculture production need immense capacity building of farmer-producer organizations and cooperatives to ensure the expected benefits to the farmers. Thus, while welcoming these changes, the Indian food and agriculture sector needs to carefully think through, and deal with, possible barriers to ensuring successful implementation of these reforms. It should also identify the potential negative impacts and take measures to mitigate them.
In this regard, WRI India and the FOLU India platform are organizing a webinar to discuss the following issues:
- How far the recently-announced agriculture reforms can help the agriculture and allied sectors perform better and address the agrarian crisis that exists in India.
- The potential barriers to implementation and possible negative impacts on rural livelihoods.
- Potential changes to the current ecosystem of the agriculture commodity market as a result of these reforms.
- Essential supplementary measures that will help secure the expected outcomes of these reforms.
Moderated by Dr OP Agarwal, CEO, WRI India, the speakers include
- Jugal Kishore Mohapatra, IAS, (Former) Secretary, MoRD
- Shloka Nath, Head - Sustainability and Special Projects, Tata Trusts & Executive Director, India Climate Collaborative
- Saroj Kashikar, Member and ex-head Shetkari Sanghatana
- Harish Damodaran, Rural Affairs and Agriculture Editor, The Indian Express