In the biggest agricultural reforms ever, the government led by Prime Minister of India, passed three laws in the session of parliament that free India farmer from being forced to sell his produce in government mandis.
The laws, which got Presidential appraisal, also creates a space for corporates to become part of the arm sector in India. However, some of the farmers are protesting because they think that the new laws will eventually end the Minimum Support Price (MSP), regime, the rate to safeguard the farmer to a minimum profit for the harvest, if the open market has lesser price than the cost incurred.
Commission agents were protesting in Punjab and Haryana because their profits are at stake. India has a large percentage of the population dependent on agriculture. The farmers are of the perception that they will not receive the guaranteed MSP after the implementation of this law.
THE THREE ACTS
- The Farmer’s Produce Trade & Commerce –
The new law allows buyers of farm produce to trade outside the mandi system or wholesale market system which is run by Agricultural Produce Market Committee’s (APMC). This will ensure that the farmer will get much more than the regular MSP end the monopoly of the APMC.
- The Farmers Agreement on Price Assurance & Farm Service Act –
This act seeks to provide a national framework on farming agreements that protects and empowers farmers to engage with agricultural business firms, wholesalers, retailers & farm produce exporter for farm services and sale future farm produce at a mutually agreed contract.
- The Essential Commodities Act-
This act gives the government power to designate certain food items, fertilizers, pesticide, petroleum product, etc., required for the farm produce to be regulated for the production, supply, distribution & trade. These are designed to change the operating framework of agriculture in India to the ultimate advantage of agriculturalists. This would lead to an agriculture system which would be beneficial to both farmers and traders.
THE ON-GOING FEAR
The new Agri-reforms, despite being the best intent, has resulted in controversies which has politicized and embroiled in agitation among farmers and Opposition Parties in state like Haryana & Punjab.
The ill-informed protesting farmers and their backers, who include middlemen and other vested interests, call these acts as anti-farmer and pro-corporate. The rich farmers and middlemen whose interest are at stake were also included in raging the agitation and spreading mis-information about the new act.
Farmers fear that the new laws would dismantle the MSP system which would leave the farmer community at the mercy of big corporates. Their protest can be sum up as a result of politicization, miscommunication, misconception & misplaced understanding of the law.
The Prime Minister himself clarified that these two laws would not impact or infringe the mechanism of the MSP and government procurement which will continue. Even in case of dispute, the land of the farmers cannot be sold to recover any damages.
The Centre assured that the new laws are intended only to make farming profitable. These reforms would increase the competition allowing agriculture-based business, food processors, wholesaler, exporter & retailers to source directly from farmers and cut down the stake of the agent between them.
Governments have long been forced to raise inefficient input subsidies over the years, which in turn, have turned off the supply for new investment in agriculture sector. This has had effect of blocking the growth of farmers and agriculture-based industry and slowing the poverty reduction.
The government is of the view that the three new farm laws will usher in a second green revolution in India. These laws will ensure that corporate money flows freely in the Indian Farming sector, thereby enriching the rural development.
There are certain group, which remains sceptical about the new laws. They feel that the farmers might be undermined with the fear of getting the MSP. And it might increase the agitation among the farmers and create a rural distress.
Therefore, in order to frame appropriate rules to operationalize the new laws that provide a strong mechanism to ensure that corporates do not act as the new master of the farming sector in India.
At a time when a new India is trying to bail out the structural and policy obstructed growth, such reforms instituted for the new farm sector, should not be politicized for narrow electoral gains. The variance between policy and practices should subjugate.
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