A day after winning Parliament’s approval for allowing FDI in retail, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday expressed confidence that it will benefit farmers and consumers, besides introducing new technology and investment in marketing agricultural produce.
“India must take full advantage of modern technology and operational and management experience of big supply chains in the food retail business to make this happen,” Singh said, speaking at a Punjab Agricultural University function here.
“I am confident that it will benefit the farmers, and the consumers and our country,” the Prime Minister said.
The government had on Friday won the approval of Parliament to its controversial decision of allowing FDI in multi-brand retail, with a motion against it being defeated convincingly in Rajya Sabha, as BSP voted in favour of UPA. As many as 123 members had voted against the motion, while 109 voted in favour after a debate during which the Opposition had attacked the proposal to allow 51% FDI in multi-brand retail, while the government had strongly justified it, saying it was in the best interest of the country.
“Agricultural supply chains in India are highly fragmented and inefficient, leading to losses to both producers and consumers. Consumers pay high prices but the benefit of these high prices do not reach the producers. The development of efficient and vertically integrated supply chains in agriculture can take care of these issues,” said the PM.
He said the scope for building such supply chains is especially large in more advanced agricultural states. “Investment in back-end infrastructure has the potential of minimising wastage, especially of perishable fresh foods and vegetables, and increasing the income of farmers. Investment in marketing linkages would be greatly facilitated by supporting changes in the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee Act, which would allow private markets to develop,” he pointed out.
He said the East-West-North-South dedicated freight corridors will extend into Punjab, improving freight connectivity enormously.