With the virus outbreak and forest fires 2020 had already gave us a spoon full of crisis to think about yet the lists keep on growing with rallies taking all over the globe supporting farmers who protest against the three farm acts which were passed by the Parliament of India in September 2020.
As most of you already know about the issue we would like to give an brief insight about the biggest protest that's currently happening in India when the whole world is trying hard to overcome this pandemic.
'Bharat Bandh' Happened, which was called by the farmers unions who have been protesting the three farm laws enacted in the Monsoon Session of Parliament.
Major political parties came out in strong support for the bandh not only them, from Priyanka Chopra to Lily Singh a lot of celebrities joined this protest, general public across the world raised their voice in support of them.
Here is what you should know about new farm laws.
What is this law all about? (The key provisions)
The new farm laws are intended to help small and marginal farmers (86% of total farmers) who don’t have means to either bargain for their produce to get a better price or invest in technology to improve the productivity of farms.
This Act on agricultural market allows farmers to sell their produce outside APMC ‘mandis’ to whoever they want.
Though ‘commission agents’ of the ‘mandis’ and states could lose 'commissions' and 'mandi fees' respectively (the main reasons for the current protests), farmers will get better prices through competition and cost-cutting on transportation.
The law on contract farming will, on the other hand, allow farmers to enter into a contract with agri-business firms or large retailers on pre-agreed prices of their produce. This will help small and marginal farmers as the legislation will transfer the risk of market unpredictability from the farmer to the sponsor.
The third law seeks to remove commodities like cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onion and potatoes from the list of essential commodities. This provision will attract private sector/foreign direct investment into the agriculture sector.
The farm acts looks fine and profitable yet why are they protesting against the law?
Here is what farmers fear and the reason behind the protest:
Farmer unions in Punjab and Haryana say that the recent laws enacted at the Centre will dismantle the minimum support price (MSP) system. Over time big corporate houses will dictate terms and farmers will end up getting less for their crops, they argue.
Farmers fear that with the virtual disbanding of the mandi system, they will not get an assured price for their crops and the “arthiyas” commission agents who also pitch in with loans for them will be out of business.
So what to they want? (Farmers demands.)
The key demand is the withdrawal of the three laws which deregulate the sale of their crops. The farmer unions could also settle for a legal assurance that the MSP system will continue, ideally through an amendment to the laws. They are also pressing for the withdrawal of the proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2020, fearing it will lead to an end to subsidized electricity. Farmers say rules against stubble burning should also not apply to them.
What is MSP and how it affects farmers?
MSP is the minimum price paid by the government when it procures any crop from the farmers. This gives a guarantee to farmers and help them mitigate their losses.
So, what's the government say on this?
The three farm laws have been projected by the government as major reforms in the agriculture sector to remove middlemen by allowing farmers to sell anywhere in the country.
Until 2020, the first sale of agriculture produce would occur only at the mandis of the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC). However, after this new act came into force, it allows farmers to sell outside APMC mandis in India which will be profitable if utilized properly.
So is there any improvement ?
After some talks between the parties, Here are the two issues to which the farmers union agreed:
The Centre and farm unions narrowed their differences regarding the new agriculture laws with the former agreeing to decriminalize stubble-burning and shelve the proposed electricity amendment bill. Even though the “core” issues remains which raised by the unions remain unresolved (i.e.) repeal of the laws and legal guarantee for higher MSP.
This issue has been going on for a long time as the negotiation between both the parties haven't come to an common ground, This issue still remains as an question mark as it has a potential to change and revolutionize the Indian agricultural sector.
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