Purchases below MSP should be declared illegal: SJM
Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) has suggested the government to amend the farm laws to overcome drawbacks and plug the shortcomings. The outfit in a statement said that the farm laws enacted by the Modi government are in the interest of farmers. But some amendments are needed to allay the fears and doubts over the MSP. It observed that intention of Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020’ is seemingly that farmers get the right price for their produce in the absence of intermediaries. However, there is a doubt that in the absence of ‘mandi fee’, buyers will be encouraged to buy out of the APMC markets.
In such a situation, it said that the APMC mandis will no longer be generally preferred by private players and thus farmers will also be forced to sell outside the mandis.
The outfit said that MSP should be guaranteed to farmers and purchases below the MSP should be declared illegal as it expressed fear that in such a situation, big procurement companies may exploit the farmers.
“It would be appropriate that when laws are being made and purchases are being allowed outside the APMC markets, MSP is guaranteed to the farmer and purchases below the MSP are declared illegal. Not only the government, should private parties also be barred to buy at less than MSP,” according to a resolution passed by the SJM on Sunday.
It said that all procurer companies and traders should compulsorily be registered.
“It is good for the farmers to have more options to sell their produce. 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 fast track basis,” it demanded.
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 labour”. This definition of farmer in the bill is such that companies will also be included in the definition of farmer.
The SJM said that it will not be appropriate, adding that a definition of farmer should include only the farmer who engages himself in farming, not companies. It said that if farmers sell outside APMC mandis, they will not have the facility to get advance from traders. In such a situation, when a farmer enters into a contract with a company, the payment should start from sowing stage itself.
The SJM also suggested that 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, it said.
“Already over burdened Sub-Divisional Magistrate has been placed in 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. Establishment of farmers courts on the lines of consumer courts would be a plausible solution,” it said.
Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, are currently staying put at Delhi’s borders with Haryana and Uttar Pradesh in protest against the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020. They have expressed apprehension that these laws would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the “mercy” of big corporations. However, the government has maintained that the new laws will bring farmers better opportunities and usher in new technologies in agriculture.