New Delhi: The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved an amendment to Essential Commodities Act, 1955, calling it “historic” and “farmer friendly”. This move will deregulate food items, including cereals, pulses and onion and help farmers sell their produce outside their states. Also Read - What is Essential Commodities Act? What Are The Amendments? Breaking Down Nirmala Sitharaman's Speech

“Cabinet, chaired by PM Narendra Modi, approves historic amendment to Essential Commodities Act; regulatory environment liberalized for farmers through this. Landmark decisions to benefit farmers and transform the agriculture sector,” Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said while addressing a presser. Also Read - Ram Vilas Paswan : Awaiting states' nod to amend essential commodities act

The Cabinet also approved ‘The Farming Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020’ to ensure barrier-free trade in agriculture produce. Also Read - Farmers, traders unhappy with onions inclusion in Essential Commodities Act

The government also approved ‘The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020’ to empower farmers to engage with processors, aggregators, wholesalers, large retailers and exporters.

Announcing the Cabinet decisions, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said, “This will go a long way in helping India’s farmers while also transforming the agriculture sector.” The proposed amendment to the Essential Commodities Act will allay fears of private investors of excessive regulatory interference, he said.

Tomar added that ‘The Farming Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020′ will promote barrier-free inter-state and intra-state trade and commerce outside the physical premises of markets notified under State Agricultural Produce Marketing legislations.

“This is a historic-step in unlocking the vastly regulated agricultural markets in the country,” he said.

Tomar said that the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020’ will empower farmers for engaging with processors, aggregators, large retailers, exporters etc., on a level playing field without any fear of exploitation.

(With agency inputs)