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Creation of Small Warehouses at the Farmgate Could Save a Farmer from Distress Sale: Joint Secretary, Dept of Food & Distribution

Jul 21, 2020

NEW DELHI, 21 July 2020: Ms Nandita Gupta, Joint Secretary (Storage and PG), Department of Food and Public Distribution, Government of India, yesterday said that a synergy between various stakeholders and ministries is required for proper implementation of the agricultural ordinances. Ms Gupta was speaking on the three ordinances that were recently introduced by the GoI, ushering in major agricultural market reforms.

Addressing a FICCI webinar on 'Opportunity to reinvent Agriculture @Policy Reforms'Ms Nandita Gupta while highlighting the importance of warehousing, said that creation of small warehouses at the farmgate itself could save a farmer from distress sale of his produce and also assist in providing financial assistance to the farmers, by making it mandatory for the primary agricultural cooperative societies to register their warehouses with the WDRA (Warehouse Development Regulatory Authority).

She added that this benefits the farmer by not only giving him access to standardized warehousing facilities but also by helping them secure financial assistance enabled by the e-NWR i.e. Electronic Negotiable Warehouse Receipt, a legal document that enables the holder to further trade. Ms Gupta also mentioned that the ministry is in discussion with the bankand the RBI for easy pledge financing to the farmers on the basis of the e-NWR.

Mr Siraj Hussain, Advisor, FICCI and Former Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfaresaid, "The rules are yet to be circulated by the Government and therefore, in many cases, there is some vagueness as to how the implementation of these ordinances will take place on ground", he said. "However, I do think that in the long run, these ordinances, if enacted into laws, will bring a lot of change to how agriculture marketing, farming and trading takes place,Mr Hussain added.

Mr TR Kesavan, Chairman, FICCI Agriculture Committee and Group President, TAFE Ltd., said that the agriculture ordinances have the potential to fundamentally transform the agriculture sector, facilitate more holistic development of agriculture markets, and benefit the farmers. "What is important is that when you have surplus crops and bounties, one of the major areas of focus for this will be how to preserve the waste and convert this into processed, value added food. Indirectly its putting money back into the farmers' hands," he added. Mr Kesavan also mentioned that proactive approach and enabling ecosystem for promoting agriculture export could make India emerge as an important global player in the next decade.

Mr Ramesh Doraiswami, MD & CEO, National Bulk Handling Corporation, said that the recently announced agricultural reforms could bring a paradigm shift towards a more transparent, productive and integrated post-harvest value chain in Indian Agriculture. "Good engagement amongst various stakeholders including governments can make agriculture a sunrise sector and strengthen farmers," he added.

Mr Yogesh DwivediChief Executive Officer, Madhya Bharat Consortium of Farmers Producer Company Ltd, said that the Mandi Act will facilitate direct procurement of agriculture produce from farmer's doorstep by buyers without having to bring them to the Mandis to sell.

Mr Amit Mundawala, Co-founder & MD, AgriBazaar, said"Transport enables the farmer to invest more and increase production." Mr Mundawala also mentioned that these reforms have also created promising investment opportunities for private enterprises.

Mr Venkatram Vasantavada, MD & CEO, SeedWorks International Pvt Ltd., said, "We are in a kind of a supply surplus situation so if these reforms solve the issues around market linkages, the farmer will have incentives to invest." Mr Vasantavada also mentioned that going forward, investment in technology, R&D and impactful collaborations will be big game changers.

Mr Pravesh Sharma, Advisor, FICCI & Co-founder & CEO, Kamatan Farm Tech Pvt. Ltd, said "The present set of agriculture reforms are of course welcome, but they should be seen as the starting point and not the destination of the journey. Much needs to be done to address bottlenecks in factor markets such as land and capital, technology and infrastructure upgradation before Indian agriculture can become globally competitive, ecologically sustainable and socially inclusive."

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