In a bid to introduce reforms in the agriculture sector, the central government had introduced three 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, which were passed in the monsoon session of the Parliament. The objective behind introducing these bill was to get rid of the inadequacies in the existing laws and mechanisms dealing with the sale of agricultural produce and ensure that farmers received fair price for their produce.
Ever since the bills were passed in the Parliament, the government has been facing opposition regarding the bills. Long term NDA member Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) had announced its dissociation from the alliance soon after the bills were passed. Several attempts were made to spread misinformation around the bills. This was followed by protest rallies and demonstrations held by ‘farmers‘ and supported by the opposition parties. However, the protests have failed to pressurise the government into backtracking on the farm bills so far.
The issue has been raked up once again as ‘farmers’ from Punjab and Haryana are marching towards the national capital to protest against the farm bills. Amidst the revived protests by farmers, we present the views of some farmers who saw a ray of hope in the farm bills:
Farmer in Maharashtra gets compensation under new law
A maze farmer Maharashtra, Jitendra Bhoi had filed a case under the newly introduced Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020 against two traders for not paying him an outstanding amount of Rs 285,000. The bill mandates the buyers to make payment to the farmer within three days of transaction but Bhoi’s payment was delayed by four months. Bhoi approached the authorities in the first week of October. The concerned magistrate ordered the traders to immediately pay the outstanding amount to Bhoi or face criminal charges under the bill. The traders complied with the order and the case was closed on November 4.
Cardamom Farmers of Kerala
The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020 has proved to be of great help to cardamom farmers of Kerala in times of pandemic. Until now, the Spices Park was the only option available to the farmers to auction their produce and that has not been going well for the farmers due to pandemic. Due to restrictions on inter-state travel in the lockdown, sellers and buyers could not reach the Spices Park. But then Vandanmedu Greengold Cardamon Producer’s Company, which is a producer firm as well as a licensed auctioneer, started e-auction of cardamom under the provisions of the bill.
Now, a company called Idukki Progressive Spice Producer Company Ltd (IPSCL) has been registered by the Cardamom Growers’ Association which is expected to start an e-auction by the first week of December. The Spices Board at Puttady in Idukki and the Bodinayakanur in Theni district of Tamil Nadu were the only places where farmers could auction their produce. With the introduction of e-auction facility under the bill, more and more farmers are now auctioning their produce there.
Chairman of VGCPC, KS Mathew said that around 50,000 kg cardamom was sold during two e-auctions held recently. PC Mathew, Secretary of Cardamom Growers’ Association and the Chairman of the IPSCL said that they were in the process of creating a website and app for buyers. He said that e-auction would stop the system of deferred payment in which middlemen were engaged. “As per the news norms of the Spices Board, the payment should be done within 10 working days. Instead of payment, the auctioneers will lend money to the producers on a 33% interest rate. It is a highly lucrative business. We will only deal with buyers who can provide money on time”, he said.
Farmers have high hopes from farm laws
Farmers from Dibrugarh in Assam, are relieved with the introduction of farm bills. The farmers said that they will now be able to get direct benefits from the sale of their sales unlike before when the middlemen used to keep the lion’s share from the sale and would give a meagre amount to the farmers.
Farmers from Gaya also hold similar views regarding the farm laws. The farmers thanked the Modi government for introducing the farm bills. They said that now they would be able to directly reap the benefits of their produce that would until now was only benefitting the middleman. The farmers are hopeful that under the new laws they would receive a fair price for their hard work.
Farmers in Agra have also come in the support of the new farm laws. Farmers thanked the Modi government for bringing the new farm laws, saying that these will ease their lives. A farmer from Agra said, ‘PM Modi has done great. Farmers are very happy with the decision.’ Another farmer said, ‘Now because of Modi ji, we will be able to sell our produce directly,’