Speaker: Prof. Sukhpal Singh, Centre for Management in Agriculture, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad
Date & Hour: 26 August 2020, 4:00 pm
Title: Reforming Agricultural Produce Markets in India: Tales of Model Acts and Ordinances
Agricultural markets are a key to ensuring better farmer incomes, but in India, agricultural market reforms have been stuck in the middle for almost two decades as it is, like agriculture, a state subject. The Union MoAFW had prescribed a model APMC Act in 2003 for the states to adapt which made new channels of contract farming, private wholesale markets, and direct purchase legal for the first time. But, the progress was tardy and varied both in terms of magnitude and nature of reforms. In 2017 and 2018, the MoAFW circulated two separate model Acts on wholesale agricultural markets (APMC), and on contract farming respectively. Besides, there have been new and limited, but now abandoned/marginalised initiatives like E-NAM and deficiency price payments (Bhavantar Bhugtaan Yojana) to ensure better price discovery and MSP benefits to farmers. More recently, during the ongoing Covid-19 period, the Union government has unilaterally undertaken some measures in the form of two major Ordinances to free farm produce markets from APMC regime and create a new ‘trade area’ outside the APMC market yards. These two Ordinances allow any identity with a PAN to buy farm produce from farmers directly or undertake contract farming which have led to plenty of debate and discussion and farmer agitations in some regions of India as it creates two markets -APMC market and ‘trade area’ outside it with two different regulations (APMC Act and Ordinances). It is also for the first time that agricultural markets, which have been the domain of states constitutionally, have been dealt with by the Union level Ordinances.
This seminar would examine the experience of agricultural market reforms in India so far and the major aspects of the two major state level agricultural markets laws of India (model APLM and model APLCF&S Acts) and the recent two Union level Ordinances and their implications for various stakeholders, especially farmers. It would explore some major conceptual and policy issues in the APLMA, 2017 Act and the model APLCFSA, 2018 in the light of the experience of direct purchase, private wholesale markets and contract farming in India so far. The seminar would also discuss the subject of the agricultural markets as centre-state relations issue in the light of the two Ordinances and the problems with the two legislations, besides highlighting some major lacunae left unattended by the two Acts and the two Ordinances and suggesting improvements in these Acts and Ordinances from a small producer perspective for more effective and inclusive agricultural market reforms.