The decision to allow foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail was a "national imperative", law minister Ashwani Kumar said in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday.
Putting up a strong defense of the policy, the minister said it would benefit all and the government is doing what "exactly the people of the country wants it to do".
Terming the decision a "national imperative," the government's move will benefit both farmers and consumers besides bringing in the much needed-investment in infrastructure. The minister said farmers were with the government on this.
"The Bharatiya Kisan Union in Punjab has supported us. The Swabhimani Shetkari Sangathan in Maharashtra has supported it. No farmer has taken to the road against this policy. Because they know sooner or later that the direct beneficiaries of this policy will be farmers," he said.
Ashwani Kumar said almost 35 to 40% of fruits and vegetables were perished every year.
This meant the farmers were losing up to Rs.65,000 crore annually because of the lack of infrastructure, back-end facilities, transport and cold chains.
But with FDI in retail, a significant amount of investment would be pumped into the critical back-end infrastructure, he said.
"We thought if we were to go ahead with FDI, we would be able to enlist significant amount of investment in backend infra. That's why when we made the policy, we said 50% of the minimum investment of $100 million will be in such activities," he said.