Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday said that the Essential Commodities Act will be amended. The agriculture food items such as cereals, edible oils, oilseeds, pulses, onions and potatoes will be deregulated, Sitharaman also said, adding that the stock limit will be imposed under very exceptional circumstances such as natural calamities and famines with surge in prices.
The amendment is largely to enable better price realisation for the farmers by attracting investments and making the agriculture sector competitive. No such stock limit will apply to processors or value chain participants, subject to their installed capacity or to any exporter subject to the exporter demand, she said.
Earlier Sitharaman announced Rs 1 lakh crore fund to boost agriculture infrastructure across the country. The fund will help to improve the farm-gate infrastructure for farmers, Sitharaman added. The financing facility of Rs 1 lakh crore will be provided for funding agriculture infrastructure projects at farm-gate and aggregation points including primary agricultural cooperative societies, farmers producer organisations, startups, among others. The fund will be created on an immediate basis, Sitharaman added. "Lack of adequate cold chains and post harvest management infrastructure in the vicinity of farm-gate has caused gaps in value chains," she added.
"The agricultural sector has been subjected to a host of restrictions which are no longer relevant. This has hindered the marketing and price realisation of agricultural products. In this context, the amendment of the Essential Commodities Act and the agricultural marketing reforms proposed by the Minister are indeed heartening. We hope that the states fall in line with these changes," said Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII.