New Delhi: Chief Minister Kamal Nath has stressed the need for structural reforms by all States saying that the agriculture productivity and production has however increased but agriculture market reforms have to be undertaken urgently so that farmers get handsome remunerative prices for their produce. Elaborating on the issue of transforming agriculture, at the fifth meeting of governing Council of Niti Aayog at New Delhi on Saturday, the Chief Minister emphasized the need for suitably amending the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee Act and Essential Commodities Act 1955 in favour of the farming community.

Nath also drew attention towards e-National Agriculture Market scheme saying that e-payment system is yet to be developed due to which States are facing problem. Similarly, Grievances Redressal Mechanism needs to be put in place. He said that quality of a produce should be treated uniformly by all Mandis. He said that APMC Act needs to be modified so that States have farmer centric systems there. He also stressed the need for adopting a mechanism by which import and export of farm commodities is seamlessly taken care of to benefit the farmers.

Describing conservation of rainwater harvesting as imperative for sustainable development, the Chief Minister said that the demand of water for human and industrial consumption will increase in proportionate of increase in population. He said that watershed development activities need to be strengthened in every State to replenish the groundwater resource as geographical boundaries hardly matter.

Giving example of Madhya Pradesh, Kamal Nath informed that river flow restoration project is under implementation to improve catchment area of 40 rivers in water stressed districts. He said that the conservation of the aquifers will require technological support from Central Groundwater Board and financial support from the Centre. He also informed that rejuvenation of water bodies like water tanks, wells, traditional step-wells is being taken on a massive scale.

Apprising the Niti Aayog of State’s initiatives for controlling drought situation and preparedness, Kamal Nath said that in view of reported late arrival of monsoon, suitable varieties of seeds are being made available to the farmers taking support of agriculture universities. On the other hand, district disaster management plans have been updated in view of possible flood situation.

The Chief Minister also underlined the application of the concept of aspirational districts adopted by the Niti Aayog saying that 50 blocks including 29 tribal blocks have been identified as aspirational blocks to have more focused attention.

About security related issues and those concerning the left wing extremism infected regions, the Chief Minister said that special intelligence branches involving locals should be set up. Information sharing between affected States and confidence building measures involving the local communities must be carried out in active collaboration with the Centre.