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Written by- Gunjan Kumar Ravi
FARM BILLS, 2020
There is chaos going on nationwide on the Bills recently passed in Parliament by voice vote, proposed by the Central Government to replace the ordinances issued during the lockdown. Especially the farmers of Punjab and Haryana are protesting against it. Out of three, two Bills were passed amid opposition protest. The two ordinances are: – Farmer’s and Producer Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 and Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 presented by Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar. The third ordinance, The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 could not make it before House, due to limitation of time.
The aim of the government is “creating an ecosystem” for the farmers so they have the advantage of “freedom of choice” to sell their products anywhere and to anyone. These two contentious agricultural bills are being/have been criticized by the opposition. Whereas the Prime Minister and Agricultural Minister have assured that these Bills are not “anti-farmer”.
Farmers and Producer Trade and Commerce Bill – it talks about the agricultural market and ways to expand it
- Removal of barriers for intra-state or inter-state trade of farm products.
- Farmers can sell their product to anyone, anywhere outside registered ‘mandis’
- Seamless electronic trade is promoted here.
- Increases competition among consumers or buyers.
- Encourages ending the monopoly of traders in ‘mandis’.
- Increases the income of farmers as the market will be independent and farmers can bargain for a better price.
- The new bill will not levy any market fee or cess outside the trade areas.
Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill provides framework for farmers entering into contract farming
- Opening gate for farmers to enter into a contract with private traders, firms, wholesalers or retailers.
- Farmers in contract farming have the power to negotiate
- Farmers can fix the price before starting sowing.
- Transfer the market risk to sponsor from farmers.
- Better-quality seeds, pesticides and fertilizers to be provided to farmers.
- Providing access to modern technology to farmers.
- Includes benefits for small and marginal farmers with land less than five hectare.
The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill (allowing agents to stock agro food without being prosecuted)
- Many agricultural products like pulses, edible oils, oilseeds, cereals, potatoes and onion are deleted from the essential commodities list.
- Except in war or emergency, there is no limit on stockholding.
- To reduce the wastage, there will be an investment in modern infrastructure cold storage.
- This policy aims for price stability so that farmers don’t have to face risk.