NITI Aayog launches farm index; Maharashtra on top

NITI Aayog has launched an index to rank states and Union Territories that is based on the implementation of seven provisions proposed under the model APMC Act, joining eNAM initiative, special treatment to fruits and vegetables for marketing, and the level of taxes in mandis, said an official release. Maharashtra has topped the index.

The index is named as Agricultural Marketing and Farmer Friendly Reforms Index’ and it has a score which can have the minimum value 0, implying no reforms, and the maximum value 100, implying complete reforms in the selected areas. States and UTs have been ranked in terms of the score of the index.

Maharashtra achieved the first rank in the implementation of various reforms. The state has implemented most of the marketing reforms and it offers best environment for doing agribusiness among all the states and UTs. Gujarat ranks second with a score of 71.5 out of 100, closely followed by Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Almost two-thirds of states could not reach even the halfway mark of reforms score. Such major states as UP, Punjab, West Bengal, Assam, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu, and J&K are in this group.

These indicators reveal ease of doing agribusiness as well as opportunities for farmers to benefit from modern trade and commerce, offering them more options for the sale of their produce. These indicators also represent competitiveness, efficiency and transparency in agri-markets. The second area of reforms included in the index is relaxation in restrictions related to leasing in and leasing out agricultural land, and change in law to recognize tenant and safeguard land owners. The third area included in the index represents freedom given to farmers for felling and transit of trees grown on private land. This represents opportunity to diversify the farm business.

Today marketing is extremely crucial and almost every sector has embraced marketing principles to ensure best possible outcomes. However, agricultural development in India has entirely ignored the potential of marketing and has continued to follow its old trajectory. Therefore, the benefits that can be accrued from agriculture are largely untapped. Productivity is some states is regrettably low and there is a vast disconnect between prices received by farmers and the prices paid by consumers.

“The low levels of productivity, growth and incomes ailing the farm sector in India and causing immense agrarian distress is well known. Without undertaking radical reform it is impossible to transform agriculture and double farmers’ income. However, state governments have been extremely lax in implementing much needed reforms to modernize agriculture and create a favorable policy and market environment for farmers,” the release said.