Amidst ongoing farmers’ protests, several videos containing misleading information are making rounds on social media. A video by India Today group’s The Lallantop is going viral that has an interview with a farmer who is participating in the protest at New Delhi. The 17-minute long original video on YouTube has an interview with two farmers. The farmer alleges that there are no APMC markets in the Kutch district, and the farmers have to sell their produce at a lower price.
Are there no APMC markets in Katch?
Claim: Singh, who shifted to Gujarat in 2010, claimed that he did not know that there are no APMC markets in Gujarat. He said he first tried to grow and sell wheat and cotton but could not find buyers. He had to take samples to the local dealers and said that the dealers gave a much lower price compared to other states. He then said that he tried growing pomegranates, but the market price was so low he had to feed it to the animals.
Fact: A 2-minute snippet of the video was shared on Twitter by the cartoonist Manjul. Netizens have refuted the claim that there are no mandis in Bhuj. A simple search on Google showed the address and contact details of the Bhuj APMC Mandi.
Truly misled!! Thanx for exposing Majnu. pic.twitter.com/C45V9DGarv— Facts (@BefittingFacts) December 15, 2020
On further search, according to the list [PDF] available at the Gujarat State Agricultural Market Board website, Kutch has eight APMC markets, with one located in the Bhuj region. Interestingly, Kutch is gaining popularity for export-quality fruits, mainly Dragonfruit and Pomegranate. As per the reports, Australia has allowed imports of pomegranate from India in September 2020. Over 150 farmers are cultivating high-quality Dragon Fruit in Kutch, which is now being served in India’s hotels.
Jio will control prices like it did with telecom
Claim: Another farmer Davinder Singh from Ferozpur Punjab, made a strange claim. He said everyone has seen how Jio has disrupted the telecom market. Now, Reliance will enter the Agriculture Sector and will disrupt it too. He claimed that the prices would rise exponentially because of the private players in the sector. He claimed that private companies would pay a higher price in the first few years, attracting farmers to sell crops in private markets.
Davinder Singh further speculates that the government will shut down the APMC markets on the pretext of the loss, after which the private players will start decreasing the price for the crop, and the farmers will suffer. He also alleged that the farmers would be at a loss under contract farming because they will not understand the legal language. The private players will add clauses that will give benefit to them instead of the farmers.
Fact: As per the Agriculture laws, there is a provision under which the government will control the price if it increases by 100% in perishable and 50% in non-perishable products. The prices will be compared to the cost of the commodity in the last twelve months or five years. The government is not going to stop procuring the produce under the Public Distribution Scheme (PDS). The government has procured all-time high Kharif produce from the farmers. MSP for the next produce for 2021 has already been set, and the government has spent 67,248.22 crores on the procurement of Kharif produce.
Similar claims were made from Gurudwara Bangla Sahib by Katha Vachak Banta Singh Ji, which OpIndia rebutted recently. Several opposition leaders and union leaders are also making similar claims. So much so the farmers have announced a boycott of Jio products, including SIMs and phones. Recently, Reliance has filed a complaint at TRAI alleging that its competitors Airtel and Vi are spreading rumours against the company that it is anti-farmer. Airtel had denied the claims.
It may be that while it may be easier to capture big market share in telecom, as it has only a few players, it can’t be compared with the farm sector. Even now, there are a large number of private players in the sector, apart from retailers like Reliance, there are food processing companies which buy farm products. Therefore, the fear that one day Reliance will control the Indian farm sector is baseless.