The new law has been criticised for being beneficiary to few big private companies, eliminating the business of small traders working as arthtiyas (commssion agents) and even a possible threat to the development of rural infrastructure. It has also been criticised by the opposition for being a “threat to federal structure of governance”.
The BJP-led state government, however, has welcomed the change as a major booster “to increase farmers’ income”.
Though a tiny state, Haryana is one of the largest contributors of foodgrain to the country’s central pool, with a share of around 15%. Around 80% of the total area of the state is under cultivation, in which around 65% population is engaged in farming activities.
Besides the huge farming sector, the new law would also have an impact on small traders related to the agriculture sector, as there are around 32,000 registered commission agents in the state. They are directly related to around Rs 1 lakh crore turnover of agriculture sector (sell-purchase of rabi and kharif crops) in the state.
As per a 2019 report titled “Progressive Haryana: The Agricultural Hub of India”, by PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the state is on the top position in the production of basmati rice, pearl millet, rapeseed and mustard.
More than 60% export of basmati rice from India takes place from Haryana. Major crops grown in the state include wheat, paddy, cotton, pulses, sugarcane, pearl millet and rapeseed and mustard. The main horticultural crops of the state having good potential are cauliflower, onion, potato, tomato, chillies, guava and kinnow.
Terming the new law as an attempt by the Centre to help a few big corporate houses, Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) Haryana state president Gurnam Singh Chaduni said it would not of much help to farmers who were already free to sell their crop anywhere.
He claimed another move of the government to end the limit on stocking, would promote stocking of foodgrain by some big corporate houses and a situation leading to a surge in price for their benefits only. “Labour in mandis would lose their job. With the elimination of APMC, the mandi fee would also go leading to hampering of development in rural areas,” Chaduni alleged.
Terming it a “dangerous” move aimed to end the farmer-trader relationship, Haryana Anaj Mandi Arhtiyas Association president Ashok Gupta said they would soon hold a meeting of all traders and would launch protests against it. “In Haryana, around 32,000 registered arhtiyas would be directly affected by this.
They were directly involved in annual turnover of around Rs 1 lakh crore in the sell-purchase of rabi and kharif crops. It included around Rs 20,000 crore business of wheat, and around Rs 30,000 crore of paddy crop,” Gupta added.
Opposition party Indian National Lok Dal’s secretary general R S Chaudhary said it was an unilateral decision without getting any kind of feedback from the stakeholders. According to him, every state had its own problems and such decisions diluted the state’s rights and were a serious threat to the federal structure of governance.
“What will happen to APMC? The move would have an adverse impact on the development works in rural areas, which used to be done by the agriculture marketing department,” Chaudhary, a former IAS, told TOI.
However, Haryana’s agriculture and farmers welfare minister J P Dalal said the new law would ensure beneficial prices to the farmers for their produce.