NEW DELHI: While the Centre has called the farm Bills revolutionary, the farmers continue to have misgivings on the provisions regarding the Minimum Support Price (MSP), the future of Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) and contract farming.Many farmers say fear being denied the MSP they get for their produce when the three Bills come into effect. PM Narendra Modi on Monday said the two Bills were the need of the 21st century and assured the farmers that the MSP will continue.
The farmers aren’t fully convinced. “Not one of the three Bills has even the mention of MSP. How can we trust that we will get the MSP? If the government cannot assure MSP, it will be disastrous for us as corporates will get a chance to set the prices for our produce,” said Vibhor Agarwal, a potato farmer from Bisauli, UP.The role of the APMCs is also bothering the farmers. The Centre has said APMCs can continue and the Bills provide another channel to farmers to sell their produce at better rates outside the mandis.
The farmers, however, say although the Bills talk about intra-state trade, the role of APMCs is unclear. “The present functioning of APMCs is not foolproof and the sellers are cheated in many ways. There should be stricter guidelines through which the APMCs function and also its implementation on the ground needs to be monitored. Whatever the new rules, if the APMCs continue to cheat farmers, things will not change for the agriculture sector,” Ruchit Garg, founder of Harvesting Farmer Network, said.
Farmers are also apprehensive about contract farming and have expressed concerns about the unavailability of provision to seek legal remedy. “I have 4 acres of land and I fall in the small and marginal farmers category. Currently I have no clarity on the contract farming clause but I do not want to get into a contract with a corporate as it gives them a chance to dictate the prices. Also, the legal challenges are too many. I have no way to verify if the contract would be in my favour,” Basavaraj, a papaya farmer from Raichur, Karnataka, said.
The government says the farmers can approach the SDM/DM in case of trouble in the contract. Farmers are worried at pulses, cereals and other items being removed from the list of essential commodities. The government has said deregulating cereals, pulses and onion will transforms the farm sector, raising farmers’ income. But Mahi, a farmer from Telangana, said, “Once the commodities are off the essential commodities list, the prices would be dictated by private players.”