This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Raj Bahadur Singh Meena | राज बहादुर सिंह मीणा | راج بہادر سنگھ مینا. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Farmers Protest: Here’s How We Can Improve The Dismal Agriculture Laws

More from Raj Bahadur Singh Meena | राज बहादुर सिंह मीणा | راج بہادر سنگھ مینا

It has been over a month since the farmers have camped outside the capital city, protesting against the amendments to the three farm laws. Their main apprehension is that these laws would lead to the corporatisation of agriculture, nullified MSP and dysfunctional Mandis, and eventual pauperisation of the small cultivators.

Farmers Are Left Vulnerable When It Comes To The Marketing Of Products

The producers encounter countless hardships in growing crops such as input credit crunch, vagaries of monsoon, natural calamities, climate change, damages by wild animals, threats from pests and disease attacks, etc. Yet, the insurmountable hurdle is related to the product’s marketing, where they are vulnerable like prey in the open. Realising a remunerative price for the product is the trickiest part of being a producer.

In India, there are four likely scenarios for the marketing of the primary producers. First, an assured floor price (MSP), availability of markets (APMC Mandis), and prospective buyers are relevant to crops such as paddy and wheat, where the farmers manage to secure a near remunerative price for the produce.

Representation Image. It has been over a month since the farmers have camped outside the capital city, protesting against the amendments to the three farm laws

It also explains the skewed cropping pattern in favour of these crops in Punjab and Haryana. As per the State of Indian Agriculture report, 2015-16, Punjab has the best APMC market density with one market for every 119 sq. km against the national average of 449 sq. km, where farmers can easily sell their crops at MSP.

Interestingly, the National Commission on Farmers (2004) had suggested that the density of APMCs in the country is poor, and an agricultural market should be located within a radius of 5 km from the farmer’s residence, i.e., one market for 78 sq. km. area. Even so, the government is further evading its responsibilities.

Farmers Don’t Even Receive One-Fourth Of The Market Price Due To The Middlemen

Second, an assured MSP, accessible Mandis but no buyers – for crops like pulses and oilseeds, the actual procurement at MSP is very low. NAFED data stressed that even a third of the total production of oilseeds and pulses were not procured at MSP for the Kharif season of 2018-19.

Third, no MSP, but private Mandis and buyers available – for crops like fruits and vegetables, the growers don’t even get one-fourth of the market price, with only the middlemen benefitting. For instance, at urban retail markets, onions, tomato, cabbage, and cauliflower are sold for ₹ 80-120 a kg, four times the prices that farmers receive.

It is one of the factors that have deterred farmers from diverging towards high-value crops, others being an absent MSP, poor market infrastructure, lack of cold storage facilities for perishable crops, high post-harvest losses, etc.

Fourth, a distorted MSP, absentee Mandis and middlemen, and private buyers – it is a case of Minor Forest produce (MFPs), where the producers, mainly tribals, collect items such as lac, gum, tussar, honey, kendu leaves, mahua seeds, etc. from the forests, are forced to sell the produce, in the so-called competitive open market, at throwaway prices.

The government came up with a scheme in 2013, ‘Mechanism for the marketing of Minor Forest Produce(MFP) through Minimum Support Price (MSP) and Development of Value Chain for MFP’ which assured floor price for few MFP to start with.

The Structure Of The Present Farm Laws Is Worse Than Colonial Exploitation

Even though the procurement by the government agencies was already negligible, the government, in 2016, drastically reduced the MSP for the forest produce. For instance, the central government reduced the MSP for Lac (Kusumi) from ₹ 320 to ₹ 150 per kg and Lac (Rangini) from ₹ 230 to ₹100 per kg, claiming that such demands were raised by state governments.

It has ever since increased the MSP for MFPs marginally and included some more products under the scheme. However, the scheme remains merely on paper, as there are no Mandis or market place and no government agencies for procurement.

Consequently, a section of primary producers has remained only as second class producers with no hope from the government and completely at the mercy of middlemen and private buyers who exploit them unrelentingly. Such is also the engineering of these farm laws that would reduce the farmers to pitiful conditions even worse than colonial exploitation.

The case of nationalised MFPs is worth mentioning in the present context. Some MFPs like tendu leaves are nationalised, which means the state forest department enters into a contract with the MFP owners, the tribals, to sell these products only to the forest department.

The latter has a monopoly over the procurement of such produce. The Forest Rights Act, 2006, along with the PESA (Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996, granted ownership and governance rights to the tribals, and in principle, prohibited the nationalisation or the forest department monopoly over the marketing of the MFPs.

A Remunerative Price For Their Produce Should Be A Constitutional Right Of The Farmers

Consequently, these producers are treated like contract labourers working on fixed daily wages and fare no better than open trade of the non-nationalised MFPs. The open market is primarily dominated by middlemen, as big corporates would never directly procure from small producers.

A ceremonial gesture of MSP thus would remain an otiose ritual so long as the dysfunctional Mandis would render the procurement at the floor price either absent or minimal.

According to a report, “five years after the scheme, MSP for MFPs, was introduced in 2013, the utilisation statistics has remained poor. The Centre had earmarked ₹ 1,172 crores for five years till 2018-19. Ministry of Tribal Affairs’ statistics, however, revealed that only 11% of the total outlay — about ₹ 128 crore — has been spent.”

A reasonable solution should involve a pre-agreed floor price (MSP) for all kinds of the primary producers, access to regulated Mandis like market places, preferably within 5 km from the nearest habitation as recommended by the Swaminathan Committee report, and an assured procurement by the government agencies whenever the market price falls below the floor price. Above all, a remunerative price for their produce is a non-negotiable constitutional right.

The writer is a PhD scholar at JNU and a former Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellow.

Feature Image Source: Wikimedia
Image is for representation purpose only


You must be to comment.

More from Raj Bahadur Singh Meena | राज बहादुर सिंह मीणा | راج بہادر سنگھ مینا

Similar Posts

By IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute

By IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute

By shakeel ahmad

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below