Centre sets up panel of seven chief ministers to suggest measures on agri reform

The Centre on Monday set up a high powered committee of seven chief ministers, led by Maharashtra’s Devendra Fadnavis as its convenor, for suggesting measures to transform Indian agriculture and raise farmers’ income. 


The Committee, having Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar as one of its members, will submit its report on its six-point ‘terms of reference’ (ToR) within two months. 


Besides Fadnavis, other chief ministers in this panel include HD Kumaraswamy (Karnataka), Manohar Lal Khattar (Haryana), Pema Khandu (Arunachal Pradesh), Vijay Rupani (Gujarat), Yogi Adityanath (Uttar Pradesh) and Kamal Nath (Madhya Pradesh). The Niti Aayog member, Ramesh Chand, was appointed as its member-secretary. The government had decided to set up such panel after deliberations of governing council meeting of the NITI Aayog last month. 


The one of the six-point ToR of the panel include suggestions on modalities for adoption and time-bound implementation of two key model Acts - one on agriculture market reforms and the other on contract farming - by the states. The Centre had shared these two model Acts with the states during the first term of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi government. 


Examining various provisions of Essential Commodity Act (ECA), 1955; suggesting mechanism for linking of market reforms with e-NAM, GRAM and other relevant centrally sponsored schemes; and recommending policy measures to boost agricultural export, raise growth in food processing and attract investments in modern market infrastructure, value chains and logistics are other three key points of the ToR. 


The panel will examine various provision of the ECA, keeping in mind attracting private investments in agriculture and marketing infrastructure. The ECA in its present forms creates uncertainty in the minds of private investors as they fear that the government law may prohibit sale and export of commodities in certain situation under existing law, said an official. 


The remaining two ToR include suggesting measures to upgrade agri-technology to global standards and improve access of farmers to quality seed, plant propagation material and farm machinery in agriculturally advance countries, and proposing any other relevant reforms for transformation of agriculture sector and raising farmers’ income.