Farmers from Punjab and Haryana had staged a protest at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi against bills on food and agriculture reform on 16th September 2020. Police have detained the farmers while they were protesting.
The Centre introduced the Bills on food and agriculture reform in the Lok Sabha on 14th September 2020. The proposed legislations seek to provide barrier-free trade for farmer’s produce outside the notified farm. This will empower farmers to enter into farming agreements with private players before production for sale of agri-produce.
The Bills Introduced and Views of the Farmers
Three Bills were introduced in the parliament on 14th September 2020. The bills introduced are “The Farmers’ Produce Trade And Commerce” which is a Promotion And Facilitation Bill, “The Farmers Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services” which is an Empowerment and Protection Bill, and “The Essential Commodities” which is an Amendment, Bill.
Farmers have said that they are being forced to protest in the streets because of the apathetic attitude of the central government over their demand for the withdrawal of the Bills.
Farmers have expressed apprehension that these would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price (MSP) system. And they would be at the mercy of the big corporates. Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Sukhbir Badal has also announced in Lok Sabha that Harsimrat Badal, the Union Minister for Food Processing Industries from his party, will resign in protest over these bills.
While farmers are protesting against all three bills, their objections are mostly against the provisions of the first. There is no uniform demand among the protesters or unified leadership. Their concerns are mainly about sections relating to trade area, trader, dispute resolution, and market fee in the first bill.
The Government gives justification for the three Bills
The Opposition is with the farmers in alleging that the new legislation will benefit only big farmers and hoarders. The government, on the other hand, has said that the provisions will be beneficial to all three, which is the farmers, consumers, and traders.
According to Ramesh Chand, a member of NITI Aayog, almost all agriculture experts and economists were batting for these reforms in the agriculture sector. The Central government was also persuading states to implement the Model APMC Act, 2002-03. But the states did not adopt it fully. Therefore, the Centre had to adopt the ordinance route. This will lead to help farmers realize a better price. This is a very forward-looking legislation and it is a win-win situation for all farmers, consumers, and entrepreneurs.