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Assocham worried over agri ministry's licensing ruling
01
Jun '16
The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) has expressed concern over recent actions by the Agriculture Ministry, notifying on May 18 a new framework for licences for agricultural biotechnology covering existing and future technologies and advocated review of the same. The notification covers Bt cotton technology.

“The government notification creates an environment that discourages research and innovation and, therefore, needs to be reviewed urgently,” Assocham said in a press release. This draft notification can have a huge negative impact on India's cotton sector, and will have deep rooted ramifications for all other knowledge and innovation driven sectors.

The Agriculture Ministry has put up the draft licensing guidelines for Bt cotton technology for comments and suggestions from all stakeholders so that relevant proposals can be incorporated

Assocham said this draft notification has serious implications for research and innovation in the country. By trying to determine the price of technology, overriding existing commercial contracts of technology providers and introducing essentially compulsory licensing provisions, it may send a negative message. This could have ramifications across R&D and technology intensive sectors such as pharmaceuticals, telecom and has potential to dampen investor interest in government's 'Make in India' initiative.”

Agriculture R&D is a long process that requires substantial investments over decades to develop and launch hybrids and new technologies in seeds. It is, therefore, important for this process to be economically viable and sustainable.

According to Assocham, technology will underpin the future of many so-called traditional sectors and agriculture is one of them. A policy environment that dilutes returns on investments discourages private sector research and investments in agricultural technology, and may ultimately harm India's farmers by depriving them of access to the best technologies from around the world.

“The government instead of dictating the licence terms and artificial price controls, should focus on creating an environment that encourages research and recognizes the benefit that these technologies bring to farmers,” it said.

India's agricultural sector remains under constant pressure to increase farm output, even as farmers struggle against inclement weather, water shortage and high labour costs that make it an imperative to encourage innovation rather than penalizing innovating firms.

The government has embarked on an ambitious plan to 'Make in India' – to turn India into a hub for innovation and knowledge. The Government has articulated its vision, and provided direction in this regard. However, this vision can be undermined by policy contradictions that can result in dissatisfaction among companies operating in India as well as potential investors, Assocham said. (SH)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India

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