New Delhi:

Private companies have began investing in farm sector spurred by the recent reforms that will help increase farmers' income, according to Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Agarwal.

The government recently brought three major reforms via Ordinances.

It amended the Essential Commodities Act to deregulate food items, and introduced a new law — The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020 — to allow farmers to sell their produce outside the Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMC).

The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020 was brought in to legalise contract farming.

"These reforms are applicable pan-India. They are moving in the right direction and will help increase the income of farmers," Agarwal told PTI.

The government has already held one round of discussion with the industry on implementation of agri-reforms.

"Large number of industries are planning investments, while some have already invested," he said."Lot of things are happening. I was told that a rice company has already entered into contract farming with basmati rice growers in 1,000 acres, while another company has opened a private mandi," he said without disclosing investment amount.

On the ongoing kharif (summer) sowing, Agarwal said India has already set a new record in sowing of kharif crops.

"Good rains have improved the prospects of kharif crops. Total area sown to kharif crops has reached 1,08.2 million hectares till August 28, surpassing the 2016 record," he said.

In 2016, farmers had sown kharif crops in a total area of 1,07.57 million hectare.

Total sown area under kharif crops stood at 1,00.99 million hectares during the corresponding period last year. Even in the current Covid-19 crisis, farmers have worked very hard, he said.

"Overall, there has been good sowing till date. All required steps for risk mitigation have also been taken," Agarwal said, adding that reports on status of crops in states that faced floods and heavy rains are awaited.

Sowing of kharif crop begins with the onset of southwest monsoon and harvesting starts from October. Rice is the main kharif crop.