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Agriculture Ministry unveils model APMC Act

In order to give more freedom to farmers to sell their produce, the agriculture ministry has unveiled “The State/UT Agricultural Produce and Livestocks Marketing (promotion and facilitation) Act, 2017” which has defined each state/UT as a single unified market area. The draft law is proposed to overhaul the existing laws.

So far 26 states and Union Territories, including Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, have fully or partly modified their APMC laws. Other than Bihar, all other states/UTs have agreed to adopt the model Act.

Salient Highlights

The model act proposes to curb the role of APMC mandis. The existing APMC mandis are allowed to enforce regulation only in their market yard and thus encouraging private sector players to set up mandis. Traders would be able to transact in all markets within a state by paying a single fee.

The model law on agricultural marketing would introduce features like single market within a state, private wholesale markets, direct sale by farmers to bulk buyers, and promotion of electronic trading etc.

As agricultural marketing is a state subject and is governed by their respective Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Acts, the states are free to adopt portions or the entire model act. The state governments as per the draft law are required to appoint an independent entity ‘director of agricultural marketing’ who would function as a sole authority to grant the licence for the establishment of a new market yard in the state concerned.

The new Act proposes to put a cap on mandi taxes at 1% for foodgrain and 2% for fruits and vegetables as well as commission agent’s levy at 2% of the total transaction cost.

Need

Due to the monopoly of APMCs, farmers do not have a choice to sell their farm produce to multiple buyers. The model act will provide several marketing channels to sell agricultural produce. The model act aims to liberalize trade in farm produce and aid better price realization for farmers.

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Cows to have Aadhaar like ID

The central government has informed the Supreme Court that it intends to provide unique identification number for cows as suggested by an expert committee to track cattle and prevent their trafficking.

According to the August 2016 report submitted by the committee constituted by the home ministry, the unique ID will have the details like cattle’s age, breed, sex, height, body colour, horn type, tail switch, lactation profile (in case of milch cattles) and other special marks. The IDs are proposed to be provided in the form of a polyurethane tag. In addition, the registration proof has to be maintained by the owner of the cattle which should be transferred to the next owner in case of legitimate transfer of the cattle. The committee has also recommended that a state level data base may be uploaded to a website that links with a national online database.

The response of the government was submitted to Supreme Court which was hearing the PIL filed by Akhil Bharat Krishi Gosewa Sangh.

Need

According to the government, the recommendations of the panel will help in stop trafficking of cattle across the Indo-Bangladesh border and will also prevent smuggling of cattle to Nepal for being sacrificed at the Gadhimai festival, which is held once in five years.

Also, as per the Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act read with Export Import Policy (Exim policy) of India requires that cattle can be exported to other countries only with a valid license from the regional licensing authority.

The allocation of unique ID will also help to prevent cruelty towards the animals. They can be vaccinated on time and scientific intervention can be made available on time. It would also pave way for making a uniform act for cow preservation and protection in India.

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One crore assets geotagged under GeoMGNREGA initiative

MGNREGA has reached a major milestone by geotagging one crore assets created under it. The geotagged assets have been put in public domain. The scale of assets created under MGNREGA is massive and is estimated to be about 2.82 crore assets since the financial year 2006-07. On an average, it works out to a creation of 30 lakh assets annually.

The type of assets created under MGNREGA includes water harvesting structures, plantations, rural infrastructure, flood control measures, individual assets for sustainable livelihood, community infrastructure etc. As per the Ministry of Rural Affairs, all assets created under MGNREGA will be geotagged and special focus would be given to geotagging of Natural Resource Management works primarily the water-related works.

The geotagging exercise is expected to usher in greater transparency and accountability at field level.

Background

Geotagging of assets created under MGNREGA was started after Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasised the need for online recording and monitoring of assets to check leakages. Subsequently, on June 24, 2016, the Ministry of Rural development signed a MoU with National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), ISRO and National Informatics Centre to geotag MGNREGA assets created under each village panchayats.

The geotagging exercise commenced from 1st September 2016. Gram Rozgar Sahayak or a junior engineer uploads the photos of assets on the Bhuvan web portal run by ISRO’s National Remote Sensing Centre via a mobile app. The time and location of the asset get automatically encrypted at the time of upload of the photos. In this way, within a span of seven months, one crore assets have been geotagged and shared in public domain.

In January 2017, Kangra district (Himachal Pradesh) became the first district in the country to geotag all the assets created under MGNREGA.

Geotagging is a process of adding geographical identification in the form of metadata to various media like websites, SMS, QR codes, RSS feeds, geotagged photographs etc. The data usually consists of parameters like latitude, longitude, altitude, distance, place names etc. It can help to find a range of location specific information from a device.

 

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