RAIPUR: Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel has urged the Centre to withdraw the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance 2020, saying it is not in the interest of farmers.
He said that the ordinance would decrease employment opportunities in the agriculture sector. The ordinance, notified by the Centre last month, aims to promote barrier-free inter-state and intra-state trade in agricultural produce.
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday, Baghel said with the implementation of the ordinance, lakhs of farmers in the unorganised sector will be forced to act under "unbridled market forces", a public relations department official said.
Chhattisgarh is an agrarian state and its 70 per cent population is engaged in farm activities. The state mainly grows paddy which is procured by the Chhattisgarh State Cooperative Marketing Federation Limited on behalf of the Food Corporation of India (FCI), at support price. "The state supplies usna rice to FCI, thereby ensuring sufficient supply of food grains for people in the country," chief minister said in the letter.
"According to the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, any farmer or trader has the freedom to carry on inter-state or intra-state trade in farmers' produce outside a notified mandi and permission has also been given to the PAN card holding traders to buy and sell agricultural produce without possessing license," he said.
Variety of agricultural produce are cultivated in different parts of the country, where marketing practices are influenced by the corresponding nature and conditions of farmers, and this is the reason that the marketing of agricultural produce has been regulated in such a way by enacting the Mandi Act that it eliminates malpractices and the interest of unorganised farmers remain protected," he said.
All efforts to increase agricultural production are fruitless and unprofitable until the marketing of agricultural produce at a reasonable price is not ensured. The chief minister said that to achieve the objective, the Mandi Act was implemented and it had been amended from time to time in the interest of farmers.
He said that the Mandi Act is completely rational in the present circumstances. "However, if any improvement is desired or required, the state government is capable to do so. The new ordinance will affect the smooth functioning of (agriculture) mandis and it may lead to their closure thereby creating unemployment for people associated with these facilities," he said.
"With the Mandi Act being indirectly made ineffective, lakhs of farmers in the unorganised sector will be forced to act under unbridled market forces," Baghel said. The move is contrary to the accepted traditions of the federal structure, he said, and requested the prime minister to withdraw the ordinance in the interest of farmers.
Notably, the Chhattisgarh High Court last week issued a notice to the Centre and the state government on a petition challenging the constitutional validity of Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance 2020. The high court sought their replies within four weeks in this connection.