FARM BILLS 2020- THE TURNING POINT FOR AGRICULTURE

On September 27, 2020, the president of India Mr. Ram Nath Kovid gave his assent to the three farm reform bills – The Farmers’ Produce Trade And Commerce (Promotion And Facilitation) Bill 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill 2020, and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill 2020. These bills have been passed by the parliament in the recently concluded Monsoon season. Our Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi hailed by passage of these bills by saying “A watershed moment in the history of Indian agriculture!”

But the thing to worry about is the farmers for whose betterment these Acts have been made are on streets protesting these Acts. Farmers organizations like Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) and the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) have been protesting the bills from September 2020 itself. They have raised the slogan of ‘KISAN BACHAO MANDI BACHAO’ in this article we will discuss the reforms brought by new Acts, why are farmers protesting and way forward.

The government has said these reforms will accelerate growth in the sector through private sector investment in building infrastructure and supply chains for farm produce in national and global markets They are intended to help small farmers who don’t have means to either bargain for their produce to get a better price or invest in technology to improve the productivity of farms. The bill on Agri market seeks to allow farmers to sell their produce outside APMC ‘mandis’ to whoever they want. Farmers will get better prices through competition and cost-cutting on transportation. However, this Bill could mean states will lose ‘commissions’ and ‘mandi fees. The legislation on contract farming will allow farmers to enter into a contract with agri-business firms or large retailers on pre-agreed prices of their produce. The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020, seeks to remove commodities like cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onion and potatoes from the list of essential commodities. This will end the imposition of stock-holding limits except under extraordinary circumstances.

Farmers from Punjab, Haryana and some other parts are protesting against these reforms. Currently there is a major protest going on at Delhi’s borders. Badal, too, tendered her resignation after the Bills were passed. Opposition parties, including TMC, Congress, DMK and BSP, opposed the agriculture sector reform bills, saying they were against the interests of small and marginal farmers. Congress upped its ante against the Modi government, terming the move a conspiracy to defeat the Green Revolution. Slamming the government, Congress leader Gaurav Gogoi said: “This government has been eyeing, how they can take the farmers’ land to benefit their capitalist friends, whether is the Land Acquisition Act, whether in the industrial system through weakening the labour courts and now this three-pronged attack on the Indian agricultural system through the two bills on farming – one related to APMC, the other one is related to contract farming and the third bill which is on essential commodities… a three-pronged attack on the Indian farmers.”

Written By :Ditipriya Das