From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not much
Mains level : Paper 3- Issues with the agriculture bill
The article analyses the issue of farmers opposition to the three agricultural bills.
- Farmers have been protesting against the three bills related to agriculture.
- These three Bills are-
- 1) The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020
- 2) The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020.
- 3) The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020.
What are the aims of the bills?
- The Bills aim to do away with government interference in agricultural trade by creating trading areas outside the structure of Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs).
- One of the bills aims at removing restrictions of private stockholding (under Essential Commodities Act 1955) of agricultural produce.
- One of the bills deals with the regulation of contract farming.
Issues with the Bills
- The government has failed to hold any discussion with the various stakeholders including farmers and middlemen.
- The attempt to pass the Bills without proper consultation adds to the mistrust among various stakeholders including State governments.
- Farmer organisations see these Bills as an attempt to weaken the APMCs and eventual withdrawal of the Minimum Support Prices (MSP).
- Farmers in Punjab and Haryana have genuine concern about the continuance of the MSP-based public procurement given the large-scale procurement operations in these States.
Understanding the role of APMC
- APMCs do play an important role of price discovery essential for agricultural trade and production choices.
- The middlemen are a part of the larger ecosystem of agricultural trade, with deep links between farmers and traders.
- The preference for corporate interests at the cost of farmers’ interests and a lack of regulation in these non-APMC mandis are cause for concern.
- To understand the role of APMC, consider the example of Bihar.
- After Bihar abolished APMCs in 2006, farmers in Bihar on average received lower prices compared to the MSP for most crops.
- Despite the shortcomings and regional variations, farmers still see the APMC mandis as essential to ensuring the survival of MSP regime.
The protests by farmers are essentially a reflection of the mistrust between farmers and the stated objective of these reforms.