Farm Bill 2020

Introduction:

India has been the agrarian economy for centuries, at the time of independence i.e. 15 August 1947 this sector rendered 50% of the GDP and employed 70% of total workforce. Land where everyone chants ‘Jai jawan Jai kisan’ as farmers save the country from the food scarcity after 1965 indo Pak war. Now this sector shares 16.5% to India’s national income and constitutes 42% of serving work power.

Acts before:

Due to such expiation of this sector to Indian economy, it was pivotal to introduce regulations to prevent exploitation of our farmers. Before independence, the sole motive of colonial rule was to extract the resources of India best of their potential. The agricultural regulation was set to exploit our farmers and export raw material to industries of England. 

Agricultural produce and markets regulation(APMR) was the act introduced under the British rule to have agricultural produce at puny or low prices binding farmers to sell their procurement at their respective mandis consequently making India a stagnant economy and making lives of farmers vulnerable.

After independence the government improvised the same idea because they wanted to keep the prices under check on one hand and prevent the farmer from exploitation on the other hand.

APMC (agriculture produce market committee) was set up:

  • All agricultural produce to be bought at their allotted mandis and sell it through auction.
  • Saving farmers from the scourge of local zamindars retailers who brought ample amounts at low prices.
  • To ensure low prices of food grains as the majority of the population was economically weak.

But since the time has changed so has the sector advancement with time and requirements of the market a new bill was needed to focus on farmers now.

Loopholes in earlier act:

  • Mandi tax: the farmers are required to pay a share of their procurement as tax to be allowed to sell in Mandis even after the situation of farmers was atrocious.
  • Monopoly: farmers were obligated to sell their produce to Mandi at MSP (no other statutory opportunity).
  • Lack of assistance: No section to support farmers in adverse situations like drought, flood, hail etc.
  • Doesn’t mention MSP in the entire act .(astonishing fact, discussed later as well).

Farm bill 2020 

The bill came in 3 parts :

  1. The Farmer Produce trade and Commerce (promotion and facilitation) bill.
  2. The farmers agreement on price assurance and farm services bill (empowerment and protection).
  3. The essential commodities bill (amendment).

The bill aims to free farmers from market’s monopoly i.e. earlier they were obligated to sell their produce at Mandis ,now can sell to others but Mandis these are also open to procure at MSP.

 It is implementation of Swaminathan community the most seeked bill for farmers to improve farmers living and to prevent the farmers by giving them opportunities who are committing suicides 

 Opposition’s claim: 

Opposition has made the ruckus on the following grounds:

  • The bill is intended to fill the pocket of big retailers and industrialists.
  • Mandi will be abolished and farmers will be left to go door to door to sell their crops .
  • No mention of MSP minimum support price.
  • Since the agrarian sector is subject to state, the central government didn’t consider the opposition’s say.

Central government claim:

  • Bill is introduced to free the farmers of the country from the clutches of monopoly and to give them ample options.
  • Mandis will remain at their place and procurement at MSP will continue.
  • This bill is implementation of Swaminathan committee to empower the farmers and set the price at cost plus 50% as profit.
  • Bill was in the Opposition’s manifesto as well before the election and now trying to mislead farmers.
  • MSP was an administrative move; it was never mentioned in previous acts as well because MSP varies state to state according to procurement of a particular crop.

Farmers power and rights under the act:

  1. Farmers can also sell their procurement /produce to mandi at MSP as well as outside giving him the option to sell at best price.
  2. Not only this under this act farmers have the option to do contract farming, that is farmers can have agreement and price fixed before sowing the crops and have the deal with industries or retailers.
  3. In case of any dispute between farmers and industrialist private retailers it will be sorted by conciliation board hey under sub divisional magistrate and will resolve and support farmers and can impose fine on industries, reprimand the industry or can take statutory action against industry  if required.

Actual Loopholes of farm act 2020:

  • What is most hectic for farmers is to get the price of their produce by sugar mills, sugar cane arrears have reached record high i.e 33,000 crores till April 2019 an amendment to get the farmer their price on time was necessary.
  •  Farmer since ages have been the ANNADATA to the country stringent statutory assistant by providing government funded  farm insurance is the need of the hour which was missing in the act .It would help the farmers in crisis due to natural calamity and prevent farmers suicides that has accrued at an alarming rate.
  • Most importantly government onus is to provide proper understanding to common farmers and its subject viz any policy they introduce, that is accountability and transparency which this government has lagged in this scenario. Not every bill needs to be passed over night.
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