Today in Rajya Sabha, the discussion continued on the Health Minister's statement on COVID-19. Members urged the government to have a vaccine procurement and deployment strategy in place and ensure last-mile delivery when they become available. 

Replying to the debate, the Health Minister assured the House that the government is in discussion with a high-level expert group and working out a strategy. He noted that three vaccine candidates have reached phase 1, phase 2, and phase 3 trials and that vaccines are expected to be available in India by the beginning of next year.

This discussion was followed by the Defence Minister briefing the house on the border situation in Ladakh.

Lok Sabha skipped Zero Hour and took up legislative business. Two bills related to contract farming and barrier-free sale of agriculture produce were discussed together. 

The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 allows inter- and intra-state sale of agriculture produce outside of notified APMC mandis. The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Prices Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 provides a framework for farmers and buyers to enter into a farming contract so that farmers can be assured of a guaranteed price and buyers of the availability of quality produce. State governments may establish a registration authority to provide for the electronic registry of farming agreements. 

Some of the issues raised during the debate: Members pointed out that the right of the states to legislate on agriculture produce was being interfered with. They also questioned the need for bringing in legislation on agriculture reforms through Ordinances. Another member asked the bills to be referred to a standing committee for further examination.

The debate in the House was ongoing at the time of uploading this note.

Number to Note

496 sq. km

The average area served by an APMC market is 496 sq. km. The National Commission on Farmers (Chair: Dr. M. S. Swaminathan) in 2006 had recommended this to be 80 sq. km. 

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We’ve done a sector-wise analysis of the Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan comparing the key policies and initiatives announced under the economic package and their current implementation status.

[Analysis of the Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan]

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