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Seminar by Dr. Sukhpal Singh

A seminar on ‘Reforming Agricultural Markets in India: Experience and Policy issues,’ was held at the Joan Robinson Hall on May 3, 2019. The seminar was presented by Dr. Sukhpal Singh, Professor and Chairperson, Centre for Management in Agriculture, IIM, Ahmedabad.

Abstract: Agricultural markets are a key to ensuring better farmer incomes, but in India, agricultural market reforms have been stuck in the middle for almost two decades as it is a state subject. The Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer Welfare (MoAFW) had prescribed a model APMC Act in 2003 for the states to adapt which made new channels of contract farming, private wholesale markets, and direct purchase legal for the first time. But, the progress has been tardy and varied both in terms of magnitude and content of reforms. Recently, the MoAFW has circulated two separate model Acts on wholesale agricultural markets (APMC),and on contract farming. Besides, there have been new initiatives like E-NAM and deficiency price payments (Bhavantar Bhugtaan Yojana) to ensure better price discovery and MSP benefits to farmers. This seminar examines the experience of agricultural market reforms in India so far and the major aspects of the two major agricultural markets laws of India (APLM and APLCF&S Acts). It points out some major conceptual and policy issues in the way various terms have been defined and used in the APLMA, 2017 Act besides examining some of the governance issues. It also discusses the new provisions on private wholesale markets, direct purchase channel, and on aspects of regulation and promotion. The seminar would also examine the major aspects of the model APLCFSA, 2018 and the experience of contract farming in India so far. The seminar also discusses the subject of the agricultural markets as centre-state relations issue, besides highlighting some major lacunae left unattended by the two Acts and suggesting improvements in these Acts from a small producer perspective for more effective and inclusive agricultural market reforms.