Why aren’t the farmers happy? In last couple of months you must have read,seen & shared articles, videos,news on this protest. Many come & write “jai jawan, jai kisan” online but then forget about the main issues. Some are happy with half the truth but remember half the truth is even more dangerous than the lies. Before you want to support farmers or vice-verca you must understand the problems they have. Sindhu border and other national highways leading to Delhi have been blocked by thousands of farmers from north of india. Camps being set-up, protests & rallies being carried out, the food producers are on the streets. What for? This blog is all about elaborating the farmer’s issue india 2021 in most simple words possible.
Little background will help you understand it better. So in the 1960s India the newly independent nation was struggling to produce enough food grains for its people. Droughts made it worse by causing famines. So the government decided to step into modernising the farming & push up the produce. Hence India had its Green Revolution. The processes of irrigation, pesticides, fertilisers and more hepled the country become self-sufficient. Especially the production of wheat and rice soared. Soon India went from food crisis to food surplus. In this context the government developed a nation wide food marketing system to ensure fair prices. The system is complex and differs state to state. APMCs (agricultural produce market committee) were established where farmers bought their produce to sell at whole sale rates throgh open auctions with transparent pricing. Prices could be informed through minimum support prices or MSP. This varied between states but it did set benchmark prices. The system aims to protect farmers by giving market standards. It must be designed keeping in mind the fact that the fsrmers are the wrakest links and can be exploited. Even then the money from the farmers households is disappearing. They are in debt, this is leading to suicide crisis. Due to these hardships farmers have been asking for reforms for decades. But this year instead of providing more protection to this vulnerable community the Central government went in opposit direction. The direction which farmers see to dismantle the MSPs.
The three laws introduced by the Government, on paper at least, seem well intentioned. The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 – allows farmers to bypass the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) and sell the produce directly to a big company, warehouses, cold storage chains, or even set up shop to sell directly to consumers.
The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 allows for contract farming, for a farmer to get into a contract with a buyer to cultivate specific products for a specific price. This ensures that farmers know the price they will get even before cultivation starts.
The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 allows buyers to purchase and stock commodities without getting called a hoarder and being vulnerable to penal action.
The pros. 1-Under contract farming the farmers can be protected by the Co sumers Courts. Also agreed upon by the Supreme Court. 2-The agreements would now be in writing which lessens the chances of fraud against the farmers. 3-Some farmers are being benefited by these laws in ares where the role of the APMCs is less. 4- Might imrpove the broken infrastructure of mandis which are far from perfect.
The cons. 1-Contract farming dispute redressal is weak as would be sorted by sub-divisional magistrates. 2- Corporates may hoard products and later create monopoly leading to high prices. 3-Soil health decline, debt cycle, high input costs and less profit margins are issues unaddressed by the laws.
Here’s a live example from Kerala.The Modi govt abolished the coconut board,which is like the APMC. The Coconut Board offered Rs 10 per coconut. After it’s abolition the price offered by private traders was Rs 40 per coconut.But the Coconut Board would bring their own men to scale up trees, cut the outer green shell of coconuts & transport them to the market. Now this man has to hire people to climb the trees, and since it is risky, pay for their insurance. He has to pay more for peeling the green skin and then transport the coconuts to the market and return. After meeting all the expenses, he gained Rupees four per coconut.The consumer was earlier paying Rs 20 to 40 per coconut. Now prices begin at Rs 50.Now you know why the farmers are unhappy.
The Government justify the Farm laws by saying this will eliminate the middlemen, it will create one market for all, it will help farmers sell their product at any price they want.The PM says his heart bleeds for the farmers and he would not do away with the MSP regime and as a matter of fact the new farm laws have no mention on doing away with it. But having private corporate bodies same access to markets creates uncertainty for the prices to tumble. If the government is so sincere them why don’t they make MSP a legal entity.
Farmers are calling them Black Acts, government is calling them Ultimate Acts to solve farm issues. Actually the truth lies in between. The farmers are wounded & to heal them the government needs to make bridges not trenches. Water canons, tear gas, lathi charge will worsen the situation. Farmers need to know their rights & benefits from the new laws before calling them completely flawed. The communication needs to be done & things need to be sorted rationally. This is Gunjan signing off. Love & Peace ✌