The Centre will harmonize host of suggestions that have come from industry associations including PHD Chamber for the Contract Farming Act in next few weeks and subsequently push for its enactment with vigorous follow ups with all States and Union Territories as the proposed Act would be an ideal way forward to monetise agriculture and horticulture wastages that are substantially higher under prevailing system, disclosed Dr. Ashok Dalwai, CEO, National Rainfed Area Authority, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare.
Addressing the National Conference on Cold Chain Infrastructure, organised by PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry in New Delhi today, Dr. Dalwai informed that the proposed Contract Farming Bill has already been placed in public domain for making it still better with suggestions from the industry and other stakeholders that have already come in and the senior functionaries in the department of agriculture would be able to harmonize them in next few weeks.
Thereafter, not only the Ministry of Agriculture but also the PMO would push hard for its timely enactment with States and UTs so that farmers’ incomes are enhanced with public and private participation as these stakeholders will bring in new technologies and advanced methodologies for improved agriculture which could lead to better monetising farmers’ income with consumers receiving farm produced at much cheaper and competitive rates, added Dr. Dalwai.
Speaking on the occasion, Pawanexh Kohli, Chief Advisor & CEO, National Centre for Cold-chain Development (NCCD) said, “Even serious efforts have already been intensified by the Centre including PMO to push for bringing in reforms replacing Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs) with new model known as Agricultural Produce and Livestock Marketing (Promotion & Facilitation) Act, 2017 which is likely to bear fruit in next one year and so since agriculture and marketing are both state subjects.”
Kohli also felt that farmers produce could fetch them remunerative pricing provided cold chains are integrated through superior marketing logistics as it is the only way out through which better pricing could be ensured for those that are involved in Indian agriculture and horticulture.
Highlighting the problems, Pankaj Mehta, Managing Director, Carrier Transicold India and South Asia said, “The deficiency in the farm-gate packhouses is evident. The consumers are ready to buy agricultural produce on premium prices. But, the only challenge in front of the industry is to maintain the quality of the produce while it reaches to the consumers.”
SK Sharma, Managing Director, Global Agri System said while speaking during the conference, “There has been a constant focus on increasing farm yield. But, if production of any commodity increases by 10 percent, prices fall to 60 percent. And thus, if we increase even 10 percent the farm productivity, the consequences for the farmers will be disastrous. To tackle this problem, we will have to create the warehousing, cold chain and food processing infrastructure where the surplus farm commodity can be stored and can be supplied throughout the year.
Highlighting the opportunities, Sharma said, “Today, two billion population of the world buy frozen food. In next 10 years, one billion more people are going to add this number. Thus, in front of the food and cold chain industry, the opportunity lies here.” “If Indian economy is growing at 6 percent for next five years, 40 percent of India’s population will be middle class who prefer to buy ready to eat food. This is the biggest opportunity where the industry will have to invest, he added.
Hitin Suri, Joint Managing Director, Suri Agro Fresh said, “Doubling farmers’ income can be done by increasing yield and by eradicating food losses. To eradicate the food loss, a massive infrastructure of warehousing and cold chain will have to be in place which needs big investments. However, the banks do not finance any project until the promoter of the project is not so strong.