Even as ‘farmers’ from Punjab and Haryana stage blockades and demonstrations in and around Delhi, the new Agriculture bills that were passed in September 2020 by the central government have already started reaping benefits for the farmers in Maharashtra.
A report published in the Indian Express stated that soybean farmers have managed to get more out of the APMC deals following the passage of the farm bills. As per MahaFPC, the umbrella body of farmer producing companies (FPCs) in Maharashtra, FPCs in four districts have made about Rs 10 crores from trade outside mandis after the laws were passed three months ago.
Farm bills curtail the tremendous powers once held by the APMCs
Earlier, before the agriculture laws were passed, the cooperative bodies which regulated APMCs held tremendous power over the trade carried out in the catchment areas of the APMCs and such trades were levied market cess and other taxes on such transactions. However, the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce(Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, strips APMCs of wielding such regulations.
In the last 3 months, the FPCs have registered an increased trade interest from edible oil solvent, extractors and animal feed manufacturers for directly buying from their farmers. The direct transaction has helped farmers in terms of increased savings by spending less on transportation. The companies, on the other hand, have profited by not having to pay for Mandi cess.
As per the article, as many as 19 FPCs, most based out of Marathwada, have recorded 2693.58 tonnes out-of-mandi trade with companies. Out of these 19 FPCs, 13 of them from Latur have supplied 2165.863 tonne, mainly to ADM Agro Industries Pvt. Ltd. Likewise, four FPCs from Osmanabad had supplied 412.327 tonne. One FPC each in Hingoli and Nanded have supplied 96.618 tonne and 18.78 tonne of oilseed to private companies.
Reduced transportation cost, no dispute on weights, among other benefits from the new laws
One of the farmers who benefitted from the new agriculture law said that the new bills not only helped the farmers in saving transportation costs, but there was also no issue of weight at the centres. However, he added that the companies stopped procurement once the market rate fell below the government declared minimum price support (MSP).
The farmer claimed that there was nothing contentious in the new bills but he advised the government to ensure that non-MSP procurement did not happen outside the mandi. He also added that the government should strengthen the grievance redressal mechanism.
The managing director of the MahaFPC, Yogesh Thorat, extolled the arrangement, saying the current structure opens up avenues for the farmers to sell their produce and provides them with a “choice to sell”. Allaying the apprehensions that have been raised by protesting farmers, Thorat said that he had witnessed farmers and corporate honour the commitments made to each other.
Protests by farmers from Punjab and Haryana
By contrast, thousands of farmers from Punjab and Haryana have marched towards the national capital to protest against the passing of alleged ‘anti-farm’ laws by the Modi government. The main arteries leading to the national capital have been blocked by the farmers, who have set up sprawling camps along the highways, in order to compel the government to negotiation table. The farmers have been demanding a guarantee on the MSP front. Several of them have been more radical in their demands and have asked the government to annul the three farm bills altogether.
The protests by farmers have also seen participation from washed-up actors and activists, who are trying to fight their way back from oblivion on the back of farmers’ protests. Pro-Khalistani elements have also joined in the protests and several threats have been dished out to PM Modi and others if they do not heed to their demands.