Agricultural Marketing, rather than production, is going to be the key driver of the agriculture sector today, thanks to the new market realities posed by the increasing accent on globalization, liberalization and privatization of the economy. Market-driven production is an idea whose time has come. With the gradual shifting of agricultural system from subsistence to commercial one, there is increasing focus on Agripreneurship and Agri-marketing. It is the need of the time to tune up the Agricultural Marketing System of the country to enable the farmers to face the new challenges and reap the opportunities as well. This summons us to revisit our traditional statistic policies and laws and bring about the requisite reforms in the sector.

The imperatives of the integration of the Agricultural Marketing System of the country are increasingly posing new challenges in respect of each of the components of the system such as- cleaning, grading, quality certification, packaging, storage, transportation, financing, wholesaling and retailing etc of agriculture produce. The subtlety of the management of Agricultural Marketing issues today calls for high degree of professionalism to measure up to the expectations of different stakeholders.

Internal reforms in traditional agricultural marketing system of the country have become indispensable to enable our farmers to tap into the external market of the post-WTO regime. Now that many states have introduced some reforms in agricultural marketing, the need of the hour is to consolidate the gain of reforms through appropriate policies and plans. The existing trade barriers have to be removed for evolving a common market in India. There is a need to give a push to processing and value addition. Cost effectiveness through integrated supply chain management has become sine qua non in the present world trade environment. This demands doing away with the dysfunctional aspects of the present regulated marketing system by putting in place a responsive market information system, need-based price discovery mechanism, measures to solve the problem of economies of scale at the grass root level by promoting contract farming, direct marketing and private investment in agricultural marketing infrastructure.

Congenial investor-friendly economic environment has got to be evolved to attract the private investors to invest in agricultural marketing sector for bridging the existing gap in the agricultural marketing infrastructure of the country. Farmers should get freedom of choice to use a physical market giving them services for the fees paid by them. This could be possible through dismantling of the monopoly of the Government-owned markets and permitting setting up markets in the private sector, thereby bringing healthy competition in the sector. This also calls for the traditional Government mandies to be spruced up in terms of their management, infrastructure, service delivery, customer-friendliness through fine-tuning of their internal processes. The other areas of reforms such as promotion of grading and standardization, market-led extension, rationalization of market fees, public- private partnership in owning and management of markets etc will go a long way towards pushing the system to the next level of excellence. The focus on reforms calls for a paradigm shift in our approach.

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