'Link Central grants to state for agriculture reforms'

'Link Central grants to state for agriculture reforms'

 Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. PTI file photo

A panel of chief ministers on Thursday favoured linking grants and allocation made by the Finance Commission to states with reforms for the farm sector.

The High-Powered Committee of Chief Ministers for Transformation of Indian Agriculture, chaired by Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis also supported scrapping of the Essential Commodities Act that puts restrictions on storage and movement of farm produce.

The chief ministerial panel, set up by the Niti Ayog earlier this month, held its first meeting here that was attended by Manohar Lal (Haryana), Pema Khandu (Arunachal Pradesh), Vijay Rupani (Gujarat). Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath joined the deliberations through video conferencing and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath sent his views in writing.

Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Niti Ayog Member Ramesh Chand and Niti Ayog CEO Amitabh Kant also attended the meeting.

Fadnavis, the convenor of the committee, pitched for greater coordination between the ministries of agriculture and commerce, as the former deals with production, while the latter with marketing.

“Grants of the central government and fund allocation of the Finance Commission should be linked with the agriculture reforms undertaken in the states,” he said briefing the reporters about the deliberations of the meeting.

Fadnavis said the Madhya Pradesh chief minister favoured scrapping of the Essential Commodity Act of 1955 contending that it had lost its relevance in the present times.

Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani made a point of doubling the income of farmers and suggested to make changes in the market system to attain the same.

He said the criteria to calculate a farmer's income should be based on his profit and by changing the role of markets, benefitting farmers would be easier.

The chief ministers also pitched for greater use of technology in the farm sector, particularly digitisation of the entire process from sowing to marketing, more use of drones and satellites and enhanced focus on group farming.

Fadnavis said there was a need to take banks and financial institutions on-board to increase investment credit for the farm sector.

The next meeting of the chief ministerial panel has been scheduled for August 16 in Mumbai.