State to strengthen APMCs, PACS to cast off impact of new farm laws on farmers
Hyderabad: With the Union government continuing to be adamant on implementing its new farm laws, which many believe are anti-farmer, the State government has begun building an alternative system by strengthening Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs), Primary Agricultural Cooperative Societies (PACS), Rythu Bandhu Samithis and Rythu Vedikas.
The State government, consequently, will continue to have control over the market, provide a platform to encourage farmers to cultivate crops based on market demand and provide an alternative option to sell their produce directly in the market at remunerative prices.
Telangana’s average annual agriculture production is now pegged at Rs 1.15 lakh crore, with most of the produce sold through APMCs. Amidst apprehensions that the new farm laws will weaken APMCs and force the farmers to sell their produce to traders or corporate firms, the State government has decided to strengthen market committees and other platforms besides increasing godown storage space to counter any negative impact the agriculture sector may face once the new laws are implemented. The Marketing Department has already been directed to come up with recommendations to provide multiple platforms for farmers to sell their produce.
To start with, the State government decided to turn the APMC properties into assets for operation and maintenance of market yards with some of these properties to be utilised for commercial activities. The Marketing Department is examining all options, including leasing out the properties or developing them on a public-private-partnership mode. Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao has already said that the government would give about Rs 400 crore in compensation to the Marketing Department as the new farm laws, if implemented, would deprive the department of income from APMCs in the form of market cess or other fee.
Following directions from the Chief Minister, Agriculture Minister S Niranjan Reddy has recently held a meeting with APMC chairpersons and secretaries for the first time. He asked them to play an active role in ensuring remunerative price for agri produce in association with officials of Agriculture and Horticulture departments. The Minister also asked them to study the local markets and identify crops which are in demand throughout the year and encourage farmers to cultivate them during the ongoing crop season.
“Currently, oil seeds and pulses have a good market in Telangana and neighbouring States. We were asked to communicate the same to farmers regularly and encourage them to cultivate crops that are in demand. Since we enjoy a personal connect, farmers would prefer to sell their produce through APMCs. It was also decided to examine the feasibility of establishing a network in the State enabling farmers to sell their produce without requiring to travel all the way to other APMCs where there is a demand for these crops,” an APMC chairperson from Karimnagar district told ‘Telangana Today’.
Making optimum use of Rythu Bandhu Samithis and Rythu Vedikas, the State government has decided to reach out to farmers and encourage them to produce alternative crops and those in demand. “Traditional crops are not providing remunerative price to farmers. Hence, the government is encouraging alternative crops and non-traditional or horticultural crops which can fetch profits to farmers,” an official in the Marketing Department said. Besides using around 2,600 Rythu Vedikas as hubs for farmers to discuss their crops, farm practices and marketing sources, they will be used for storing seeds, fertilizers and farm produce.
Meanwhile, the State government has already brought out the food processing policy and intends to establish at least one processing unit per Assembly constituency. In addition to State’s existing godown storage capacity of about 22 lakh tonnes, the Chief Minister has recently announced plans to double it to about 40 lakh tonnes. Efforts are already on to add a capacity of about four lakh tonnes immediately.
Taking advantage of the new farm laws, the State government, which is already working to formulate a comprehensive Telangana State Paddy and Rice Policy, has decided to encourage food processing units on a large scale. Rice millers will also be allowed to build godown spaces for storing paddy or milled rice.
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