Govt launches e-booklet highlighting success stories of farmers benefitting from new agri laws
New Delhi, Dec 17: As farmers intensify their protest seeking repeal of three farm laws, the government on Thursday issued an e-booklet highlighting the success stories of farmers who have benefited from contract farming after enactment of these legislations.
In the 100-page e-booklet 'Putting Farmers First', the government said it has made clear the "truth" about the the farm reforms and has mentioned "what will happen" and "what will not happen" for farmers. It also asserted that reforms in the farm sector were undertaken step by step in the last six years keeping in mind the needs of farmers. The government asserted that the three farm laws were enacted in September after "two decades of consultations."
Farmers have been protesting at various border points of Delhi for three weeks against the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020. Farmer leaders have threatened to completely block the Chilla border between Delhi and Noida to press for their demands.
The new laws have been projected by the government as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove middlemen and allow farmers to sell anywhere in the country. However, protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that the laws will pave way for eliminating the safety cushion of minimum support price (MSP) and do away with the mandis, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates.
Highlighting briefly the success stories of farmers who have benefitted from the new laws, the government said: "There are many success stories already for such market access across various states." "Nearly 1,300 farmers in the Aligarh district of Uttar Pradesh recently entered into an agreement with Fortune Rice to produce export quality paddy and are earning 15-20 per cent higher income," it said.
More than 2,500 potato farmers across north Gujarat are earning nearly Rs 40,000 more per acre under agreement with potato processing company HyFun Foods, it said. Over 1,000 seed potato farmers across Punjab, northern Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh are earning guaranteed 35 per cent margin above cost under the agreement with Technico Agri Sciences Ltd, the government said.
These growers have benefited from the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020. On what will not happen for farmers due to these reforms, the government said, "MSP will not go away. APMC (Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee) mandis will not be closed. Farmers' land will not be taken away by anyone for any reason."
It said further, buyers cannot make any changes to farmers' land. Buyers cannot cheat farmers and contractors cannot end agreement without full payment, the government added. On the advantages the laws will give to farmers, the government said under the contract agreement, farmers can fix prices for produce even before growing it. Farmers can end agreements anytime they wish. Buyers must pay on time or face legal action, it said.
The three laws aim to provide better lives for farmers and jobs for the rural youth, the government said. Contrary to allegations by rival parties, the government in the booklet said the farm laws were brought after two decades of consultation. "...the extensive consultation process on agricultural marketing reforms had spread over two decades, during which different governments headed by different political parties had all proceeded in the same direction and recommended similar things," it said.
"As a culmination of this process, on June 3, 2020, the Union Cabinet after its 21st May consultation with states on Ordinances, approved the promulgation of two ordinances: The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020, as well as the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020," the government said.
After promulgating the Ordinances, the Centre worked to sensitize farming communities, FPOs and cooperatives etc. to raise awareness on the advantages of 'One Nation One Market' and explain the Ordinances' benefits, it said. After debate and discussion, Lok Sabha passed both the bills on September 17, and Rajya Sabha on September 20.