Amidst raging controversy, cooperative fraternity has welcomed the passage of two bills aimed at transforming agriculture and doubling farmers’ income in the country. These two bills— The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 and The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 were passed by Lok Sabha on Thursday.
These legislations are being opposed by the farmers of Punjab leading to the resignation of Harsimrat Kaur Badal, a minister in Modi’s cabinet. Offering her resignation Ms Kaur said “I have resigned from Union Cabinet in protest against anti-farmer ordinances and legislation.”
Responding to opposition to bill in certain quarters, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to twitter and wrote in Hindi which translates to “forces are afoot to misguide our farmers. I wish to assure our farmers that the provisions of govt procurement and MSP would continue as in the past. This bill offers additional opportunities to them aimed at doubling their income.”
Supporting Modi IFFCO MD Dr U S Awasthi tweeted “Farmers (Empowerment & Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance & Farm Services Bill, 2020 provides unique features in farming agreements to protect and empower farmers. Engagement with different stakeholders at mutual price. Freedom for Farmers. #JaiKisan #AatmaNirbharKrishi
NCDC twitter handle wrote “@jaisahakar Historic day for cooperatives today. Parliament is going to deliberate the farmers empowering ordinances become legislation. Huge opportunity for cooperatives.
Kribhco MD Rajan Chowdhry also supported the bill tweeting “The Farmers Produce Trade & Commerce Bill, 2020 will promote efficient transparent and barrel free inter and intra-State trade of farmers produce outside the market yard with alternative options for selling their farm produce at competitive rates.”
Industry veteran Mohandas Pai wondered “How can this be anti-farmer? This gives farmers more choice. Nobody is forcing any farmer to do anything, no force for contract farming, no force to sell outside! why oppose policy which empowers farmers? Don’t you want farmers to do better, earn more? MSP will remain!”
But a word of caution on the issue was voiced by senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, especially in the light of the resignation by Akali Dal Minister Ms Kaur. Swamy tweeted “
How can a Government despite being in majority in Lok Sabha yet forms a coalition called NDA, but does not consult its allies before introducing a Bill in Parliament on a subject concerning farmers? Withdraw the Bill and then negotiate with allies for a consensus Bill.”
Replying to the discussion on the Bills before they were passed by the Lok Sabha Narendra Singh Tomar said farmers will now be freed from the restrictions of having to sell their produce at designated places only, the procurement at Minimum Support Price will continue and mandis established under State laws will also continue to operate.
The Union Agriculture Minister said that these legislations will bring about revolutionary transformation and transparency in the agriculture sector, electronic trading will increase, there will be accelerated agricultural growth as private investment will be attracted in building supply chains and agricultural infrastructure, new employment opportunities will be created and rural economy will get a boost, which will in turn help to strengthen the national economy.
The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 seeks to provide for the creation of an ecosystem where the farmers and traders enjoy the freedom of choice relating to sale and purchase of farmers’ produce which facilitates remunerative prices through competitive alternative trading channels to promote efficient, transparent and barrier-free inter-State and intra-State trade and commerce of farmers’ produce outside physical premises of markets or deemed markets notified under various State agricultural produce market legislations; to provide a facilitative framework for electronic trading and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
The Bill basically aims at creating additional trading opportunities outside the APMC market yards to help farmers get remunerative prices due to additional competition. This will supplement the existing MSP procurement system which is providing stable income to farmers.
It will certainly pave the way for creating One India, One Agriculture Market and will lay the foundation for ensuring golden harvests for our hard-working farmers.