Ensure Remunerative Price to Farmers Under the Law
Though many political parties and farmers’ organizations are opposing new farm legislation, Swadeshi Jagaran Manch believes that the government’s intention in bringing new agricultural Acts is good. However, there are some amendments needed to overcome the drawbacks in the Acts, plug the shortcomings and allay the fears and doubts about the new bills. The intention of ‘The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020’ is seeming that farmers get the right price for their produce in the absence of intermediaries.
There is a doubt in this regard that in the absence of ‘Mandi Fee’ buyers will be naturally encouraged to buy out of the APMC markets. In such a situation, the APMC Mandis will no longer be generally preferred by private players; and thus farmers will also be forced to sell outside the APMC Mandis. Swadeshi Jagaran Manch feels that in such a situation, big procurement companies may exploit the farmers. In such a situation, it would be appropriate that when laws are being made and purchases are being allowed outside the APMC markets, minimum support price (MSP) is guaranteed to the farmer, and purchases below the MSP are declared illegal. Not only the government but should private parties also be barred to buy at less than MSP.
According to the new provisions, when any buyer can buy from the farmer by showing his PAN card, the payment should be made immediately as soon as the farmer’s produce is lifted; or the government should guarantee the payment. All procurer companies and traders should compulsorily be registered.
Though it’s good for the farmers to have more options to sell their produce, however in reality if one large company or a few companies dominate, the bargaining power of the poor farmers will be badly affected. The government had earlier said that 22 thousand agriculture Mandis would be established. This task should be completed on a fast track basis.
The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation), 2020 Act defines a farmer as a person “who engages in the production of farmers’ produce by himself or by a hired labor”. This definition of a farmer in the Bill is such that companies will also be included in the definition of a farmer. It will not be appropriate. Swadeshi Jagaran Manch firmly believes that the definition of the farmer should include only the farmer who engages himself in farming, not companies.
Swadeshi Jagaran Manch believes that if farmers sell outside APMC Mandis, they will not have the facility to get advances from traders. In such a situation, when a farmer enters into a contract with a company, the payment should start from the sowing stage itself. In this way, payment can be made in 3 to 4 installments.
There should be a judicious dispute resolution mechanism for the farmers engaged in contract farming. The ‘Dispute Resolution Mechanism’ proposed by the ‘The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020’, related to contract farming is very complex for the farmers. Already overburdened Sub-Divisional Magistrate has been placed in a key role in dispute resolution. Due to this, it would be extremely difficult for the farmers to get justice in the event of a dispute. The establishment of Farmers Courts on the lines of Consumer Courts would be a plausible solution.