farmers: Special Cell is ensuring hassle-free movement of perishables across India: Agriculture Minister

Economy


Several steps have been taken to help farmers and to ensure efficient supply of vegetables, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar tells Prerna Katiyar in an interview. More than 2,000 major markets are functional across the country now, he says. Edited excerpts:

Farmers in Punjab and Haryana are complaining that they are getting lower minimum support price due to factors such as rains or hailstorms impacting the quality of wheat. They say these factors are beyond their control. Is the ministry doing something to help such farmers?

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution has issued necessary directions regarding procurement of lustre-lost wheat by taking some measures such as relaxing norms to provide fair prices to farmers affected by unseasonal rains.

Most vegetable farmers are complaining of not being able to recover even their input cost due to lack of buyers or transportation issues. What has the government done to help them get a better price?

The Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers Welfare has launched the Kisan Rath app that serves as a transport aggregator to help farmers transport goods. A coordination cell is working towards ensuring hassle-free inter-state and intrastate movement of perishables.

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The department had also requested states to facilitate and encourage FPOs (farmer producer organisations) and farmers to sell their produce directly to consumers. State governments have been encouraged to take advantage of market intervention schemes to buy and store perishables.

The ministry has conducted many virtual conferences with state horticulture missions, state agri marketing boards, leading FPOs, aggregators and traders to sort out problems related to transportation of vegetables.

They have also been encouraged to take advantage of the special parcel trains to transport perishables during the lockdown. A WhatsApp group has been created for farmers, buyers and traders to promote direct marketing of horticulture produce.

There are reports of many wholesale markets being closed, especially in hotspots. Is there any plan for an alternative mechanism for farmers to get a fair price?
More than 2,000 major markets are now functional in the country. State governments were requested to relax Mandi Act norms so that farmers can sell their produce without going to mandis. The number of eNam mandis has been increased from 585 to 1,000 during the lockdown.



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