The Agriculture Ministry has broadened the scope of the proposed Contract Farming Bill by bringing marketing and services into its ambit and cutting back on States’ role in regulating the sector, paying heed to a multitude of responses that the planned piece of legislation elicited.
On the basis of the great response it received from stakeholders, we have made many changes to the Bill. There is a substantive change between the first draft and this one. The most important change is the expansion of its scope. It has now become a Model Contract Farming and Services Act,” said Ashok Dalwai, CEO of the National Rainfed Agricultural Authority, who led the committee that drafted the Bill.
The change in the nomenclature makes it possible for sponsors to get into a contract not just for production, but also for marketing as well as services.
The modified Contract Farming and Services Act 2018 is available for comments till the coming weekend and will subsequently be put up before the Union Cabinet, Dalwai said.
Acknowledging that the draft Bill received a good response from stakeholders from different sections of society, he said these observations — both positive and critical — helped in making it forward looking. Another change brought in the Bill is curtailing the role of the authorities.
“It is no longer calling for setting up of an authority, but only a board, as the role of the State is only a facilitating one. We want less bureaucracy in it and want to give more freedom to stakeholders to decide among themselves. The State’s role will be limited to protecting the interests of farmers and others who enter into contract with sponsors,” Dalwai said. Similarly, the modified Bill doesn’t call for notification of commodities for which farmers and contract sponsors can get into a contract as envisaged in the previous draft.
“There is no need to do that. Let farmers and other stakeholders decide what they want to do. We have, however, kept one provision that allows the government to de-notify any particular commodity in case of an emergency,” he said.
Countering price risks
Among the major objectives of the Bill are:
- giving price protection to farmers,
- setting up a Board to promote contract farming at the State level
- and creating a mechanism at district and taluka levels to legally record all contracts.
- The Act needs to be passed by State Assemblies to become law in those States.
On the same lines as the model Agricultural Produce and Livestock Marketing Act, 2017, which talked of total reform of the agricultural marketing sector, the Act is also trying to create a competitive market and level playing field for both the public and private sector, he explained.
The amended Bill also calls for at least two women members to be on the Board.
via Contract farming Bill to also cover services, marketing – Business Line