Agricultural Sector and Marketing Reforms – eNAM, Model APMC Act, Eco Survey Reco, etc.

In farmers’ protests, the core is procurement

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : National Food Security Act 2013

Mains level : Paper 3- Farmers apprehension over MSP

 

Context

  • Farmers’ protests have erupted once again in north India, their main worry is about a possible withdrawal of the Minimum Support Price (MSP) and a dismantling of the public procurement of grains.

Why farmers in Punjab and Haryana are protesting

  • Farmers in Punjab and Haryana are heavily dependent on public procurement and assured price through MSP.
  • Nearly 88% of the paddy production and 70% of the wheat production in Punjab and Haryana (in 2017-18 and 2018-19) has been absorbed through public procurement [Food Grains Bulletin and Agricultural Statistics at a Glance, Government of India].
  • In contrast, in the other major paddy States such as Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh, only 44% of the rice production is procured by public agencies.
  •  In the major wheat States of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, only 23% of the production is procured by public agencies.

Government needs to continue procurement

  • If farmers of Punjab and Haryana need the procurement system, the government needs it even more.
  • This is because of its obligations under the PDS and the National Food Security Act (NFSA).
  • Support under the NFSA is a legal and rights-based entitlement.
  • There are nearly 80 crore NFSA beneficiaries and an additional eight crore migrants who need to be supported under the PDS.
  • In the last three years, nearly 40% of the total paddy production in the country and 32% of wheat production has been procured by public agencies to supply the PDS.
  • Thus, the government has little option but to continue its procurement from these States in the foreseeable future.

Way forward

  • Therefore, it is imperative that the government reaches out to the farmer groups and assures them of the indispensability of MSP-procurement system.
  • The government needs to start this initiative immediately to allay their legitimate concerns.
  • Two of the major limitations in the laws that need to be addressed immediately:
  • 1) The absence of a regulatory mechanism to ensure fair play by private players vis-à-vis farmers.
  • 2) The lack of transparency in trade area transactions.

Conclusion

The severe trust deficit that resulted from the way the Farm Bills have been rushed through needs to be addressed by adopting a conciliatory approach towards farmers and the States.

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