Farms Bill 2020. What is this Bill? Why are farmers in Punjab protesting against this Bill when the farmers in Maharashtra are accepting it?
Earlier this week, the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill 2020 was passed and through the Voice Vote in Lok Sabha, the Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill 2020 and Farmer’s (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill 2020 were passed.
According to the government, the farmers’ income will surely increase and will be doubled by 2022. These Bills will provide the farmers with a market independent of government’s control which will fetch them better prices. Farmers and traders will be able to sell their product outside the Agricultural Produce Market Committee Mandis allowing the farmers to engage with agribusiness companies which will provide the farmers with modern technology.
The farmers in some parts of the country do not share the view of the government as they are concerned that the MNCs and retailers will have an upper hand as they will be free of government’s supervision and they will be dictating the prices suitable to their interests. Another problem that the farmers may face is one with the traders. Traders have always been creating problems for small and marginal farmers by delaying their payments and stalling them.
Traders who have the license to purchase the crops have a proper paying capacity. These traders deliberately stall the farmer’s money from reaching the farmer. Traders always have had an upper hand over the farmers. Traders never buy the produce of the farmers on the MSP and the farmer is forced to give away the produce at a lower price.
Farmers in Punjab are protesting against the Bills as they believe that the government has left them at the mercy of big corporations. Indian farmers are considering this step as the re-introduction of middlemen in one way. The government says that only the monopoly of APMC Mandis will end as private companies and retailers will enter the trade but these APMC Mandis will not be shut down and the MSP will not be scrapped. For decades, Indian farmers were bound by the constraints and bullied by middlemen and reintroducing the middlemen will prove to be a big upset for the farmers.
Respected Prime Minister Narendra Modi Ji defended the Bill by calling it the need of the hour whereas the opposition is calling it the ‘Black Law’ and a ‘Pro Corporate’ decision. Harsimrat Kaur Badal gave her resignation in her opposition to the Bills. The government however is calling these Bills pro-farmers but how can giving total control up to the MNCs and retailers, be PRO FARMERS?
The concern of the farmers appears to be a lot more realistic than the government’s promise as the MNCs and retailers will surely have an upper hand and will dictate the prices suitable to them regardless of the marginal farmer’s interest.
I believe that the real ‘need of the hour’ is providing the farmers with suitable MSPs and making laws about it so that the traders won’t be able to exploit the farmers by forcing them to sell their produce at a lower price. That, in the true sense, would be pro-farmers. Another step should be educating the farmers in modern agriculture practices which will help them increase their produce hence increase their income eventually.
Jai Hind. Jai Jawan Hai Kisan.