PACS can transform rural economy: NCUI

In the First Pre-Budget Consultative Committee Meeting currently being held by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley with stake-holders from various sectors, NCUI has strongly advocated adoption of Primary Agricultural Cooperative Society called PACS as one of the building blocks of rural transformation.

Making his points NCUI Chief Executive N Satyanarayan said there is a need to develop one PACS in each block fully equipped with all the necessary strengths to usher in rural revolution.

“Such PACS should be allowed to procure farmers’ produce by offering MSP and should have a godown to keep the produce. It should also have a processing unit for the value addition of the rural stuff”, Satyanarayan mooted the novel idea.

Expounding further the Chief Executive said these PACS should be fully computerized and have the capacity of availing e-NAM opportunities. “Individual farmers cannot do all these while a modernized PACS in each block across the nation can really lead to a rural transformation of sorts”, Satyanarayan was emphatic.

It bears recall that the Union Finance Minister and top officials of the Ministry had called about 20 representatives of rural economy on Tuesday in North Block in Delhi for pre-budget consultations. Each of them were given 2-3 minutes to present their cases.

IFFCO Joint MD Mr Rakesh Kapur was the only other person from the cooperative sector called for consultations. There were several farmers’ leaders from Maharashtra, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh and other parts of the country.

Other issues raised by N Satyanarayan included a need to re-visit the Section 80P, parity in taxes between the incomes of district level cooperative societies and private dairy industry and emphasis on computerization of PACS, as already initiated by the Ministry.

He also demanded recapitalization of PACS and DCCBs as per the Prof. A. Vaidyanathan committee report. Dealing with adverse implications of demonetization on District Central Cooperative Banks and increasing the grant in aid for education and training in cooperatives at least by 50 % were other areas he focused on.

Lastly, he demanded that the direct tax rate should not exceed 20 % for federal cooperative societies irrespective of their business activities and it should be on a par with NGOs at least.

In the opening remarks at his First Pre-Budget Consultative Committee Meeting with the representatives of different Agriculture Groups Union Finance Minister said there is a need to conserve water, incentivize agro processing and promote balanced use of fertilizers in order to ensure higher agriculture productivity. The Finance Minister said that in order to achieve the goal of doubling the farmer’s income by 2022, there is need for better storage and marketing facilities for the farmers’ produce so that they get better prices for their produce.

Along with the Union Finance Minister  Jaitley, the Pre-Budget Consultative Meeting with the representatives of Agriculture Groups was also attended by both the Ministers of State for Finance , Ramesh Chand, Member, Niti Ayog, Dr. Hasmukh Adhia, Finance Secretary, A.N. Jha, Secretary, Expenditure, Subhash Chandra Garg, Secretary (Economic Affairs), Shobhana K. Pattanayak, Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Trilochan Mahapatra, Secretary, DARE and DG (ICAR), Devendra Choudhry, Secretary, Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairy Farming, Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. Arvind Subramanian, Chief Economic Adviser (CEA) and Vijay Pal Sharma, Chairman, Commission for Agriculture Cost and Prices among others.

The representatives of the different Agriculture Groups present during the meeting included Raju Shetti, M.P. (Lok Sabha) and President, Swabhimani Paksha, Ashok Gulati, Chair Professor (Agri.), ICRIER, Bojja Dashratha Rami Reddy, Secretary General, Consortium of Indian Farmers Association, Baldev Singh Dhillon, Vice-Chancellor, Punjab Agricultural University, Siraj Chaudhary, Chairman & MD, Cargill India Pvt. Ltd., Tushar Shah, Principal Scientist, International Water Management Institute, R. Parthasarathy, Director, Gujarat Institute of Development Research (GIDR), K.V. Prabhu, Joint Director (Research), Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), Dr. P.K. Joshi, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Ajay Vir Jakhar, Chairman, Bharat Krishak Samaj and Crispino Lobo, Managing Trustee, Watershed Organisation Trust (WOTR).

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