The bill passed in the Monsoon session in Lok Sabha of 2020, which focuses on Agriculture has brought forward a lot of criticism and disruption from the cultivators and farmers. Two bills were passed, one on the Agri Market reforms and other on the Contract Farming provisions. Amendments have been made in the Essential Commodity Act too. These bills have replaced the ordinances which were passed by Rajya Sabha. The provisions of the bill can be stated as under:
- The legislation intends to assist the small and marginal farmers for their produce so that they can sell their produce at a better price and invest in technology to improve the productivity in the farms. This bill allows the farmers to sell their produce outside the mandis. The commission agents who benefitted from the commission charges and mandi fees have raised protests in these regards. This bill seeks to improve the condition of the farmers by deleting the role of the middle man.
- The other bill on “Contract Farming” would allow the farmers to enter into contract with agri-business firms and large retailers which would give them the opportunity to grow as well as transfer the risk of market unpredictability from the farmers to the sponsors.
- The Essential Commodities Amendment Bill has removed commodities like cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onions and potatoes from the list of essential commodities. The effect would be that the legislations will do away with the imposition of stock holding limits of such items except in case of war-natural calamity. This initiative was taken to invite foreign direct investment/ private sector to agriculture sector.
Although the traditional and old system didn’t work out in everyone’s favour, the agents had an influential impact in their lives because of the regular agents, mandi and commission fees. The legislation passed has weakened their grip over the farmers. Also, the State governments would lose a major part of the revenue because the Mandi Tax was a good source of revenue. The possible losses which the agents would face included:
- Raise in issues and fears which included end of minimum support price regime
- Irrelevancy of structure of Agricultural Produce Market Mandis
- Losing of land rights because of contract farming.
- Reduction in price of big produce because of excessive market domination by agri-business and private sectors.
- Possibility of exploitation of farmers by contractors through contract farming provisions.
These bills according to the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) and All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), are an attempt to design ways which would help profit the big corporate houses at the cost of the farmers.
-Nidhi Paul (LC Content Writer)
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