Fall of agri-products in futures market cause for concern: Pawar

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Mumbai, Nov 23 (UNI) Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar today expressed concerns over the falling share of agricultural products in the futures markets and underscored the need to channelize benefits of the market in the agriculture sector.

Inaugurating the Seventh National Conference of Commodity Exchanges, organized by Forward Markets Commission (FMC) here, Mr Pawar told commodity traders that the fall in the share of agricultural commodities from one-third in last fiscal to one-eight this year can be partly attributed to suspension of trading in certain commodities as a premptive measure against inflation.

''There was a genuine need to set up infrastructure like physical spot markets and warehouses to ensure more benefit in agriculture sector,'' he said.

He also said that the state governments need to step up dissemination and awareness programmes to develop the markets. ''The FMC and Exchanges cannot directly do much unless a mechanism is created by state governments. Allied support systems like warehousing and institutional credit facilities will help farmers,'' Mr Pawar said.

However dismissing fears of agriculture not performing to market expectations, he said, ''We are expecting the same growth in agriculture sector this year in spite of two-month delay in monsoon in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Gujarat. With the carry over stocks of last year, any impact will be mitigated. We have enough stocks for the next one-and-half years.'' Mr Pawar said that the government was not contemplating of influencing the agricultural products, after fall in inflation and decline in global crude prices. ''My first priority is to protect the interests of farmers. However, prices have not reached the minimum support level for us to initiate any action,'' Mr Pawar said.

UNI ZC SR NP1448

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