Haryana farmers seek clarity over fair price, claim reforms will help corporates2 min read . Updated: 23 Sep 2020, 01:50 PM IST
- Small farmers in Haryana are worried they may not get fair prices for their produce, and claim that the bill favors farmers with large land holdings
PANIPAT, HARYANA: Despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi's assurance that the system of minimum support price (MSP) and government procurement will stay, farmers in Punjab and Haryana have continued with their protests over the three bills that seek to bring structural reforms in the agriculture sector.
Small farmers in Haryana are worried they may not get fair prices for their produce, and claim that the bill favors farmers with large land holdings. “These bills are against farmers. It will make sure that we don’t get fair pricing for our produce," said Surendra Bharadwaj, a 60-year-old farmer in Siwah village in Panipat district said.
"A small farmer like me does not know how to reach out to market players outside these mandis. This will only benefit big corporations," he said.
The Farmer's Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020, were passed by voice vote. On Tuesday, Rajya Sabha passed the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020. The three bills have already been passed in the Lok Sabha.
“The bills have no clarity on MSP. They are opening the market for big corporations and it will only affect our income. Farmers especially in Haryana, Punjab, western Uttar Pradesh and parts of Rajasthan are dependent on procurement of wheat and paddy on the government," Sukhi Ram, a 53-year-old farmer said.
While the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, seeks to give freedom to farmers to sell their produce outside the notified mandis and is aimed at facilitating remunerative prices through competitive alternative trading channels, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 seeks to give them the right to enter into a contract with agribusiness firms, processors, wholesalers, exporters, or large retailers for the sale of future farming produce at a pre-agreed price.
The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 aims to remove controls on the holding and supply of key farm produce like cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onion and potatoes.
In an opinion piece in The Indian Express, Mekhala Krinamurthy, a senior fellow at the Centre for Policy Research said farmers already continue to sell their produce to unlicensed traders and intermediaries.
“The dominant narrative laments the fact that farmers are forced to sell their produce only to licensed APMC traders. But the reality is that even today the majority of Indian farmers, especially small and marginal cultivators, sell their produce to small-scale and largely unlicensed traders and intermediaries in the village or in local sites of exchange outside regulated market yards. But, if farmers are bound by law to sell in APMC mandis, why are so many of them selling outside?" she said in the article published in May.
PM Modi had asserted that the farm sector reform bills were the need of 21st century India and said if somebody claimed that government-regulated agriculture markets will end after the reforms, he is "blatantly lying".
"These bills have freed our annadata farmers from many bonds and freed them. With these reforms, farmers will get more options in selling their produce, more opportunities will be given," Modi had said.