Farmers Act 2020 : Boon or a Curse for Farmers in India

Farmers continue to protest on the streets of Delhi ; Image Source: DNA India

Thousands of Farmers from the states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh have taken to the streets of Delhi, since last week, to show their disagreement to the Farmer’s Act 2020, and thus the ongoing protests. They are protesting against the three new bills for which the government says that it will open up the tightly- controlled agricultural sector in the country and free the market forces.

Since ages, the Indian government offered guaranteed prices to farmers for certain crops. This further provided long-term certainty to the farmers and allowed them to make investments for the nest crop cycle.  The Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act, which was passed in 1964 stated that it was compulsory for farmers to sell their produce at a price that was regulated by the government, or the mandis, wherein there was a middleman involved who helped farmers to sell their harvest to state-run companies or private players. The farmers sold their produce to the state’s Agricultural Produce Market Committee at an auction, where they received government-agreed minimum price on their goods. However certain restrictions existed as to who could purchase at the auction and the prices for essential commodities were capped as well.

The new law by the Modi Government entirely changed the structure of the previous law. Now, the farmers can sell their produce to anyone at any price, which mean farmers have the freedom to sell the produce directly to the buyers and to other states.  The government says hat this law will end the monopoly of APMC mandis and the Minimum Support Price (MSP) laid down by the government, which is used by the government to buy the farmer’s produce shall not be scrapped. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said “The farmers should get the advantage of a big and comprehensive market which opens up our country to global markets”.

On the contrary, the farmers believe that these new norms will help the big companies to drive the prices according to their wish and will. Farmers could have sold the crops at elevated prices as per the market demand but now they might even struggle to meet the minimum prices when there is too much supply in the market. The farmers pretesting on streets also fear that that the huge investors will exploit them by drafting unfavourable contracts which might be difficult for them to understand many a times. Such things have incited tremendous anger among the farmers and they are not ready to easily give in to the new set of laws and are not ready to move out of the streets of Delhi unless their demands have been met.

Ratan Mann Singh, a 61-year-old farmer, who is also the president of the Indian Farmers Association from Haryana said “I took part in this protest to the Delhi border because the central government has sold out the farmers with these new laws, which did not have any consultation or input from farmers. If they are passed then the farmers’ rights will be finished.”

 


34 farmer leaders had a talk today with the Central Government in Vigyan Bhawan, with a demand of framing certain laws guaranteeing them the Minimum Support Price(MSP) as of now and even in future. However, the talks still reamin unconclusive. Thus, the government has
decided upon another meeting on the 5th of December, to further discuss on their demands.

 

By : Subarna Mukherjee