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Farmers Bill: Illusion and Reality !!!

The town, the localities, the Nation is all talks about the Farmers Bill. Why? What is so fascinating about this topic? While we see many farmers on the streets protesting, we also see many rejoicing on this. Let us have a quick glance on what the new bill says.

What is the Farmers Bill, that is introduced by the Central Government?

  1. ‘Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020′:

The Government Says:

  • This Bill seeks to permit the sale of agricultural produces outside the markets or the MANDIS, regulated by the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees (APMCs) constituted by different state legislations.
  •  Many states have passed laws to mandate agricultural trade only through APMCs with the aim of protecting farmers from exploitation and to ensure fair prices for the produces.
  •  The Bill seeks to eliminate such restrictions, which are intended to protect farmers from exploitation.
  • The Bill, through Clauses 3 & 4, gives freedom to the farmer to indulge in intra-state or inter-state trade in areas outside the APMC mandis.

The Farmers’ Concern:

  • Lack of assurance about Minimum Support Price (MSP) in the contract-farming bills. If the government’s intention is to guarantee MSP, why is there no clause in the Bills that stipulates that the “price shall not be less than the MSP” for that produce? There will be a Rise of Middlemen who will operate in the form of ‘sponsors’ for contract-farming.
  • Why no Minimum Support Price (MSP)? What is the guarantee that, the corporates will pay a good amount for the produce? Any rule from the government?
  • The earlier ACT too, permitted the farmer to indulge in intra state or inter state trade areas. The government claiming that this is a new clause to the Bill is a false claim.
  • Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020:
  • This Bill intends to provide for contract-farming. The Bill states that a farmer may enter into a written farming agreement in respect of any farming produce.

The Farmers’ Concerns:

  • The BJP claims that when the corporate sector goes on to have contract farming, it is only the produce that will be included in the contract and not the land. But practically, is this even possible? It is as good as asking to tear a paper off a book, without touching the book!
  • Consider a case where a farmer enters into contract farming with the corporate company. The Company will get the legal documents done as per their requirement (as there is no specific rule for the CONTRACT that has to be made) and the Farmer will sign the contracts and the funds shall be allotted accordingly. In case of floods or drought, if the farmer could not produce as much as promised, what next? Will the corporate company spare him and say “Its ok, that’s the nature’s fault. You need not repay me”? Or will the farmer be dragged to court? Now, at the court, who is going to listen to the farmer when the company has signed agreements to show as a proof? What assurance does the Farmer have in this case?
  • Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill 2020 :

The Government Says:

  • The Bill requires that the imposition of any stock limit on agricultural produce must be based on price rise alone. A stock limit may be imposed only if there is: 100% increase in retail price of horticultural produce; 50% increase in the retail price of non-perishable agricultural food items.
  • The Bill states that the powers of ECA to regulate the supply of food items like cereals, pulses, potatoes, onions, edible oilseeds, and oils can be exercised only under “extraordinary circumstances” like (i) war, (ii) famine, (iii) extraordinary price rise and (iv) natural calamity of grave nature.

The Farmers’ Concern :

  • Apprehensions that the dilution of APMC systems and the deregulation of food items will lead to large corporate entities exploiting small and marginal farmers.

Was the old APMC Act not feasible for the Corporates? Here is how Modi made things easier with new solutions.

Case 1: States has different rules and regulations to buy food grains from farmers. It was difficult for corporates to handle so many states with so many different regulations and taxes. Solution: The introduction of the new bill, takes control from the states and makes 1 ACT for the entire country, hence making it very easy to handle for the corporates.

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Case 2: Corporates will buy crops and store them. But Essential Commodity Act will stop them from storing crops for a long time, as it increases prices in the Market.

Solution: Hence, now, the Food crops will not come under the Essential Commodity Act and can be stored for longer period, again easing it out for the Corporates.

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Case 3: It was hard to determine, what type of crop will be grown by the farmers.

Solution: The Modi government came with the concept of Contract Farming, where the Farmers will be told by the Corporates as to what crop has to be grown.

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Case 4: How Corporates will handle court cases if anything goes wrong against farmers?

Solution: Farmers cannot go to courts! They will go to SDM or DC !

Farmers Bill made easy to understand to the public.

– Sheryl Iona

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