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09 November 2013

States asked to ease curbs on farm goods movement

Written by Jayant Chaudhary

STATES should not impose restrictions on interstate movement of agricultural products. Even though in the short-term it will bring down the prices of the agri commodities, it will hit the crop in the following season and will result in higher prices, according to Siraj Hussain, secretary, ministry of food processing industries. “The Union government is of the view that interstate movement of agri produce should not be restricted. It will hurt the farmer interests,” he said. Citing the instance of West Bengal, which clamped restrictions on export of potatoes to others states due to high prices, he said the prices of potatoes have fallen but this will disincentivise farmers for the next season, he said. “There is no restriction on the movement of industrial goods.
Then why should there be a restriction on the movement of agri goods?” he said adding that the government had written to the states to ease restrictions on the interstate movement of agri-products. Citing onions as a case in point, he said several farmers have taken to onion cultivation after the prices shot up to Rs 90-100 a kg levels. This would result in increased production in the ensuing season and would result in prices crashing drastically. “The new onion crop could mean crises for onion farmers,” he said. The export of processed food, which includes rice, has been pegged at $30 billion. The segment during the past five years had grown around 20 per cent but occasionally dropped to 13 per cent too due to market conditions. The government is in talks with the European Union and others for increasing exports, he said. On cold storage facilities, Hussain said the country had a 35 million tonne storage capacity and there was a gap of about 15 million tonne. This would come mainly form the private segment. However, there was a need for the private sector to not depend on subsidies to set up warehousing facilities; he said adding that the organised retail too was expected to add some storage capacities. Setting up food processing units was besieged with hurdles like getting approvals from about 20 agencies, he said stressing the need for states to make the single window mechanism efficient. “The mega food parks too have not taken off on the expected lines due to issues related to land acquisition,” said Hussain.

News Source : Financial Chronicle - 7 November 2013

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