Buddha works on middle path for farm retailing

Written by Economy Bureau | Kolkata, Dec 28 | Updated: Dec 29 2007, 05:18am hrs
The Left Front government is working on a compromise formula to allow the entry of corporate houses in farm-to-table retailing, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said on Friday.

"I am trying to work out a compromise formula. We must move in a big way for modern market mechanism but slowly and cautiously," said Bhattacharjee. Front members like the Forward Bloc have stalled the entry of Reliance Retail in the state.

"There are a good number of people working between farmers and consumers-people who sell vegetables on 'thelas' (hand drawn carts). This old system cannot go forever, but we have to switch over from old market mechanism to a modern one," he told members of the Bengal Chamber of Commerce at their 153rd annual general meeting.

"Moreover, there are so many small vegetable markets in and around the city. If the big houses come they will not be there," he said, repeating fears he has voiced earlier. While the chief minister did not elaborate on the compromise formula, sources in the industry said it could be a mechanism that integrates most of the stakeholders in the farm-to-table chain. The state has produced 15 million tonne of rice and 11.6 million tonne of vegetables this year.

According to CM, the challenge lies in sustaining the production as well as reducing wastage. The government has appointed an agriculture commission.