Busting the Myths of India’s new Farmers Bill

by SAHF Team

By Amritha Ramaswamy

Fun Fact: Agriculture is the prime source for about 58% of India’s population. Gross Value Added (GVA) by agriculture, forestry, and fishing was estimated at Rs 19.48 lakh crore (US$ 276.37 billion) in FY20 (PE). Growth in GVA in agriculture and allied sectors stood at 4% in FY20. It also contributes 18% to India’s GDP. Recently the Indian parliament passed a farmer’s Bill, an initiative from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. The Bill consists of three documents. The first is “Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce Bill. Next comes, “The Essential Commodities (Amendment)” and lastly, “Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Bill).” It is widely believed that farmers are underpaid in India, and unfortunately, this results in high rates of suicides among farmers. The Indian government believes that the Bill is here to help farmers increase their income, but in opposition of the Bill, chaos erupted where certain factions of farmers in India are protesting in fear of large corporations taking over agriculture. Common misconceptions include elites buying farmland and forcing farmers to accept less income. It is vital to look at what the Bill is about and how it helps farmers that could help allay the concerns expressed by the protesting factions.

Myth: Farm Bill denies minimum support price to farmers.
Truth: The Farm Bill is not connected to the minimum support price at all; MSP is given and will continue in the future.

Myth: Mandi system will end
Truth: The Mandi (market) system is and will always be here to stay.

Myth: Farmer Bill is anti-farmer
Truth: It is pro farmer; with the new bill on board, farmers have the ability to sell their crops to anyone and will be able to pair up with big food companies. Besides, farmers also have the ability to trade so it can benefit their sales. The first document of the bill, Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce Bill state, “No market fee or cess or levy, by whatever name called, under any State APMC Act or any other State law, shall be levied on any farmer or trader or electronic trading and transaction platform for trade and commerce in scheduled farmers’ produce in a trade area” (2020, p. 4. Http://164.100.47.4/BillsTexts/LSBillTexts/Asintroduced/113_2020_LS_Eng.Pdf Lok Sabha.

“No market fee or cess or levy, by whatever name called, under any State APMC Act or any other State law, shall be levied on any farmer or trader or electronic trading and transaction platform for trade and commerce in scheduled farmers’ produce in a trade area” (Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce Bill, Chapter II, point 6).

Myth: Large companies will take advantage of farmers with contracts.
Truth: Agreements can give farmers a pre-fixed price and the farmer has the ability to withdraw from the agreement without any penalty.

Myth: Farmer’s land will be handed over to capitalists
Truth: The agreement is based on crops and not on land; the bill states the sale, lease, and land are safe and prohibited for sale.

Myth: The farmer’s bill only benefits corporates and not farmers.
Truth: Farmers who collaborate with corporations successfully produce crops and will also learn the new technology equipment that helps crop production. In Farmers’ (Empowerment and Protection Bill), states, “farming agreement” means a written agreement entered into between a farmer and a Sponsor, or a farmer, a Sponsor and any third party, prior to the production or rearing of any farming produce of a predetermined quality, in which the Sponsor agrees to purchase such farming produce from the farmer and to provide farm services” (2020, p. 2. Http://164.100.47.4/BillsTexts/LSBillTexts/Asintroduced/113_2020_LS_Eng.Pdf Lok Sabha.

“”farming agreement” means a written agreement entered into between a farmer and a Sponsor, or a farmer, a Sponsor and any third party, prior to the production or rearing of any farming produce of a predetermined quality, in which the Sponsor agrees to purchase such farming produce from the farmer and to provide farm services” (Chapter 1, Point 2, line 20).

Re-examining the Bill:

The Bill aims to help farmers increase their income and is committed to the well-being of farmers. Unfortunately, the Bill’s misconceptions and rumors are being passed around, misleading and misguiding those who are learning about the current Bill. When a new law is passed, it is essential to read through and decide how it affects you as an individual. In today’s society, most laws passed to help citizens are politicized, because of the current political atmosphere present nationally and globally. Anti-national slogans and biased information have increased because of the propaganda created by those who did not look into the Bill first. Certain opposition parties carrying vested interests, biased media houses and certain ill informed foreign governments are needlessly adding fuel to the fire. In order to avoid this, proper education regarding the Bill needs to be implemented and to fix a conflict; people need to join hands together and work towards one common goal, not aim to divide a nation.

Sources:

  1. Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce bill, 2020.
  2. The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020
  3. Farmers (Empowerment and protection) bill, 2020.
  4. https://www.ibef.org/industry/agriculture-india.aspx
  5. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/msp-is-here-to-stay-says-kishan-reddy/article32775084.ece

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