New Delhi, June 19: At a time when the market and economy are disrupted due to the Coronavirus crisis and standoff with China, investing in the agriculture sector could be a viable option keeping in mind the latest reforms.
A number of changes and reforms brought into the sector has now made it possible for the entrepreneurs to think about shifting their focus on agricultural production and allied services.
Gone were those days when the Licence Raj used to throttle the liberty and autonomy of the sector.
Some of the reforms and the benefits which can drive entrepreneurs to look into the sector are as follows-
· The Agriculture Produce Market Committee Act (APMC) has been amended thereby de-regulating the way agricultural produce can be sold.
· Farmers will have liberty to sell their produce to any private buyer, be it a company or an individual and shall not be bound by APMC rates, which were controlled by cartels in the past.
· While APMC mandis used to cater to an average area of 450 sq kilometres making markets often inaccessible for small farmers, with the new framework, farmers can sell their produce right from their villages with help of internet, even from a common services centre as has been done by litchi farmers in Muzaffarpur, recently.
· Amendment of Essential Commodities Act (ECA) will deregulate pulses, onion, oilseeds, potatoes and cereals from ambit of the Act thereby eliminating fear of regulation.
· The aforementioned reforms will make investment in the supply chain linked to agriculture produce a lucrative option with limited investment and assured returns.
· The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance 2020 is a landmark reform, as on one hand it seeks to protect interests of farmers vide a binding contract, at the same time, it also provides better control to the customer of farm produce in ensuring better quality of crops (pesticide and modified seeds free) as such produce would seek better prices for all the parties concerned.
· With a robust free market agricultural infrastructure in place and global interest in eating healthy food, it is perhaps the best time to invest in organic farming as Indian agricultural organic produce is bound to fetch prosperity to the farmers as well as the entrepreneurs.
· Apart from direct farming, there are opportunities galore in development of e-marketplace, hub and spoke model of supply chain wherein there is adequate cold storage, packaging and logistics infrastructure in place.
Agriculture has always been the backbone of Indian Economy and the recent reforms will enable entrepreneurs to take a giant leap in the twenty-first century.
*The writer is an advocate at Delhi. Opinions expressed are personal