Sharad Pawar says FDI will help farmers

By   November 28, 2011
by Shubhangi Khapre

November 28, 2011

At a time when the opposition parties and some of the alliance partners supporting the UPA government are raising a hue and cry over the 51% foreign direct investment in retail, Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar has come out in strong defence of prime minister Manmohan Singh.

In a message to those raising an alarm over the move, Pawar said, “The policy will be enforced only in the big cities, which have a population of more than 10 lakh. As a result, the smaller towns with lesser population are clearly being exempted.”

He said, “The policy, which promises to usher in reforms, will benefit farmers, directly or indirectly.”

Maintaining that government cannot compromise farmers’ interests, he said, “The critics are overlooking the fact that the policy’s main objective is to enhance the financial ability of the farmers who are responsible for the produce. If the farmers’ produce is directly lifted from the fields, with them receiving higher remuneration for it, why should there be any objections?” he asked. “It has always been my endeavour to address farmers’ interests.”

Citing an example on how onions are traded between Nashik and Delhi he said, “Currently, the onions from Nashik are purchased for Rs200 to Rs300 per quintal. But when they reach Delhi, the prices shoot up to Rs1,400 per quintal. Even if one were to consider the transport charges, the prices should still be lower.

The higher price is on account of multiple layers of agents who demand their commissions. If through reforms we can get rid of the agents, both the farmers and consumers will benefit.”

Clearly defining the NCP’s support to the policy he said, ” As ministers we participate in the policy-making of the government at the cabinet meeting.”

Meanwhile, senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde has strongly criticised the policy and threatened an agitation in the state.

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