Farmers could perish with new farm acts

Context- Agricultural operations may flourish with new farm acts, but they threaten to lead to the marginalization of the farmers

How farmer’s protest is unique?
  • Farmer’s group come together– 31 farmers’ organizations, which have different ideologies and leanings, are to fight collectively against these Bills.
  • Kept politician out of agitation– The unions came together and formally decided to keep politicians of all parties out of their “struggle”.
  • Even the traders and the arhtiyas, who have been staunch supporters of the Central government, have expressed their anguish against the new farm laws.
Why is the anger so pronounced in Punjab?
  1. Food bowl of India– Punjab has contributed the largest amount of food grain in the central pool.
  2. Un-level field– The Punjab farmers are being asked to diversify their cropping patterns whereas other states like Madhya Pradesh and western Uttar Pradesh are encouraged to produce grains.
  • This resulted in
  1. The procurement system and MSP mechanism is strong in Punjab and Haryana
  • Only 6 per cent of the farmers in India are fully covered by the MSP, and 84 per cent are located in the states of Punjab and Haryana.

Therefore, any disruption to the system, real or perceived, will cause a major upheaval

What are the farmer’s concerns?

  • End of MSP- Their main worry is about a possible withdrawal of the MSP and a dismantling of the public procurement of grains.
  • Promote corporate control– The farmers contend the federal government is making ready to withdraw from the procurement of food grain and hand it over to the company gamers.
  • Small and marginal, would be left at the mercy of the corporates, with reduced collective bargaining capacity.
What is government’s contention?
  • Farmers will get higher prices – These Acts are intended to empower the farmers and ensure doubling of their incomes.
  • The Acts will only increase options for farmers in the output markets, that the MSP-procurement system will continue, and that there is absolutely no plan to dismantle the system.
What are the issues with the new farm Acts?
  • Free market does not have the solutions to improve the well-being of people living on the margins.
  • The assumption that the market shall protect and multiply farmers’ income is misleading.

Way forward-

  1. Compensate farmers under WTO compatible blue box- The Centre could allocate subsidies for diversification to commercial crops for the farmers of Punjab.
  • Subsidy could be given for three consecutive years.
  1. To keep the mandi system functional, the APMC Act may be reformed
  • The state governments permitted to collect mandi fee and arhtiyas given handling charges.
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