Centre must allay fears of farmers, strengthen MSP system

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Do you think farmers’ protest is justified and the Centre must have a rethink?

Centre should clear doubts of farmers

Sadly, an act which is said to be in favour of farming community is being opposed by beneficiaries. The Centre must think about it, but politicians hardly care to discuss issues, which affect masses. Arhtiyas don’t act as middleman to sell farm produce, but they come forward to help farmers at the time of need. Before getting arhtiyas out of the system, the Centre must provide an alternative to farming community to meet financial requirements. The Centre claims that minimum support price would remain in force and mandi boards would work as usual. Initially, private players may provide lucrative rates, but with passage of time as mandi boards would become a loss making proposition, they would exploit farmers. Farmers would not be able to know and understand hidden clauses in the contract farming. Importance of the Essential Commodity Act would be known only when hoarding takes place in case of a natural calamity. In the past, private players had taken the government land at throwaway prices for educational institutions and hospitals, but they never provided free services to weaker section of the society. The Central Government must act immediately to clear all the doubts of farmers related to the Bills passed recently in Parliament.

Harsh N Johar


Farm Bills will harm state economy

It is a plan of the Centre to disrupt the entire economy of agrarian states, including Punjab. If the farm Bills become laws than the Food Corporation of India will cease to exist. Then minimum support price (MSP) will not matter. The MSP for maize is Rs 1,850 per quintal, but as the FCI does not purchase maize, it sells for Rs 600 per quintal. Similarly, paddy and wheat would sell for Rs 1,200, which will be way below its MSP. As demonetisation, flawed implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the lockdown in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak brought economy down, the farm Bills will affect the GDP of nation. Farmers in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, among others, will suffer massive loss. Businesses related to clothes, general stores and brick- kilns will come to a standstill.

Anjali Midha


Centre’s move to benefit big traders

Farmers are not at all satisfied with the farm Bills passed by Parliament recently. The Centre has failed to justify what reforms the Bills would bring in near future or how it would assist in doubling the income of farming community. What is the benefit of such reforms if farmers are protesting pan India? Arhtiyas and numerous trade unions have joined farmers during these testing times. These Bills will benefit just corporate thus the government should rethink. Laws are made for people and if they are the ones who are protesting then for whose benefit have they been passed? Government should sit farmers and discuss all the issues related to the farm Bills to safeguard the interests of the latter.

Rohit Kumar Sehdev


Farm Bills should have clause on MSP

Verbal message holds no value in the court. As a result, farming community cannot approach the courts for fair compensation because Prime Minister Narendra Modi said something on camera, but the same message finds no mention in the farm Bills. According to PM Modi, even demonetisation was a success. A clause stating that corporates cannot purchase below the MSP would have not created this situation in the first place. If the Centre was serious that the Bill was legitimate, they should have gone for proper voting in the Rajya Sabha. Passing the Bills by voice vote shows how desperate the government is to help big traders. A clause related to hoarding by corporates could also have been added. According to RBI survey, farmers prioritise reliable weather forecasts and better storage facilities than removal of intermediaries. Concerns of the states should have been heard as agriculture is a State Subject. The Centre should frame policies after consulting the states concerned.

Aakarshan Batish


Think about small, marginal farmers

Farmers in Punjab and Haryana have been protesting against the farms bills passed by Parliament. The Bills have fuelled protests from farming community, which is getting all the assistance from various trade unions. The Bills aim to open up agricultural sale and marketing outside the notified Agricultural Produce Market Committee or APMC mandis for farmers, remove barriers of inter-state trade and provides a framework for electronic trading of agricultural produce. However, it also removes cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onion and potatoes from the list of essential commodities. Some sections fear that this will compromise our food security. They must know that the Food Corporation of India will continue to stock essential commodities, including wheat and rice. While the Opposition has echoed farmers in alleging that the new legislation will benefit only big farmers and hoarders, the government said the provisions will benefit all, including farmers, consumers and traders. Wholesale markets, which play a crucial role in ensuring timely payment to small farmers, would lose their relevance and even gradually disappear if large buyers are allowed to buy directly from growers. Nearly 85 per cent of India’s poor farmers own less than five acres of land and they will find it difficult to directly negotiate with corporates. Without offering an alternative arrangement to small growers, such as private markets or direct-purchase centres, the Bills do not make any sense. The Contract Farming Bill provides for a national framework on farming agreements. A big advantage of contract farming is that investments will come from agri-business firms. How can a small-scale farmer enter into a contract with big companies? The Central Government should think about small farmers.

AMARJIT KALSI


No guarantee that traders will pay MSP

Farmers are called backbone of Indian economy, however, they are treated shabbily as demonstrated by the passage of three contentious farm Bills without much discussion or proper voting mechanism. The Bills are blatantly anti- farmers. Farming community is rightly up in arms against the Bills as they have been imposed upon them in a dictatorial manner. Farmers want profitable sales of their produce in the form of MSP, but the Bills threaten to abolish the same MSP. Farmers contend that the Bills will pave way for monopoly by a section of private players, besides it is going to lead to a replication of old structure outside mandis and will create two market spaces with two sets of rules. Moreover, it is a brazen act of intrusion into states’ jurisdiction which the Centre has initiated under the cover of the Covid-19 outbreak. Farmers are also not in favour of sidelining arhtyias who have been long considered the lifeline of rural economy. They aver that mandis, which are an age-old trusted platform for farmers to sell their produce, will be done away with. Although the Centre asserts that the Bills seek to free agriculture trade from all restrictions, it doesn’t cut much ice with farming community. The plea that the Bills will open the farm sector to more competition, modernisation of supply chain enabling bigger agri business to engage with farmers directly and creating seamless access to fragmented markets , disastrously failed to convince farmers. The Centre must give farmers a patient hearing rather than thrusting its arbitrary will upon them. There is no guarantee that private players will buy farmers’ produce at MSP. The government miserably failed to allay the fears of farmers. To leave them at the mercy of exploitative private firms does not augur well if the government wants to double their income by 2022.

Tarsem S Bumrah


Hold talks with stakeholders

One wonders why the Centre needs to change the well established norms in farming sector and that too at a time when the entire country is battling Covid-19 pandemic. The Central Government has made a mistake of choosing free-market structure from western countries over India’s successful mandi pattern. The move will favour big firms at the cost of public enterprises, farmers and labourers. The farm Bills will adversely affect India’s federal structure and intrude the state government’s jurisdiction. Without rushing for its implementation, the Union Government should talk to the stakeholders. We are moving from democratic nation towards dictatorship– absolute majority is harmful for democracy. Seeds and chemicals are provided by corporates and public sector firms and no action is taken in case they are ineffective or of inferior quality. The real problem is that agriculture sector in India has become a costly affair. The need of the hour is to reduce the cost of production to save farmers from mounting debt. None of the political party discusses the issues affecting farmers.

Gursharan Singh Kainth


Income of farmers will witness increase

The reforms in the agriculture sector were long overdue and the proposed farm Bills are a step in the right direction. They aim at increasing the income of farmers. If the free market concept is successful in other sectors of the national economy, why not in the agriculture sector? Farmers are being misled by political parties with vested interest. Big landlords and commission agents keep gullible farmers in their financial shackles to reap rich gains through purchase of their harvests at low throwaway prices. But with passing of these Bills, farmers will be free to sell their products in the pan-India market at higher sale prices and the payments will made in three days. The Bills will free farmers from the clutches of commission agents. The income of famers is bound to rise.

Anil Vinayak


Farmers will Have no bargaining power

All three Bills are anti-farmer. The one on essential commodities removes all cereals, pulses, oilseeds, potato and onion from trade restrictions and price control which will ultimately benefit only the middlemen and traders but not the farmers. The new Bills have given a free hand to private corporates to exploit farmers. The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, aims to open up agricultural marketing outside notified ‘mandis’ for farmers, owing to which private companies will establish private ‘mandis’ which will be outside of government regulation. The provision on dispute resolution does not sufficiently safeguard farmers’ interests. It provides that in case of a dispute arising between a farmer and a trader, the parties may seek a mutually acceptable solution by filing an application to the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, who shall refer such dispute to a conciliation board for facilitating the settlement of the dispute. This system is not practical for farmers and can be misused against them. These laws make no mention whatsoever of the minimum support price which is the lifeline of poor farmers. It will throw small farmers before big sharks.

Saanya Aggarwal


QUESTION

As the tourism industry was one of the first casualties of the Covid pandemic, many livelihoods dependent on it were hit. For the first time, World Tourism Day was celebrated under the Covid shadow on September 27. What steps can be taken to revive tourism in the state?

Suggestions in not more than 200 words can be sent to amritsardesk@tribunemail.com by Thursday (October 1).

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