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

Understanding the opposition of farmers to agriculture Bills

Note4Students

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.

Context

  • 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.

Conclusion

The protests by farmers are essentially a reflection of the mistrust between farmers and the stated objective of these reforms.

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