By Sailendra Pandey
"Chained in the legs and a noose" Ever wondered, why was the "business" of the farmers tied?
What is right and what is wrong? Is the agitation against all the three new ordinances of the farmers proper or not?
In the 1970s, the Congress Government passed a law called "APMC Act". In this act, a provision was made that the farmer can sell his produce only in the place fixed by the government; i.e Government markets (Mandis). And the purchase of agricultural produce in this market could also be done by a person who is registered under APMC ACT, not anyone else.
These registered persons are called in the native language "Aadhatiya" i.e. "Commission Agent"
The reason behind this whole system is that the merchant loots the farmers, hence, the sale and purchase of all agricultural produce should be in front of the "government honest officers". So that "government honest officers" also get some share.
After this Act, the exploitation of farmers got doubled. What happened due to this Act is, the number of people who bought agricultural produce also became very limited. Only 10 - 20 or 50 people of farmers' produce are customers. Moreover, these few people started to decide the price rates of the produce of the farmers.
In fact, the victim farmers were the sufferers in the era of inflation, thus, not getting the right price for his produce. How will they get the right price when buyers are organized and limited in number?
It is the rule of the market that if the exploitation of your "producer" is to be stopped, then you will have to arrange a system in which the "buyer" count is more in numbers.
When the buyers are more then only the price of any goods will increase. But in that scenario of the market system, only 10 - 20 or 50 people of farmers' produce were customers.
What happened under the APMC ACT? A retailer, a consumer, a small or big manufacturer, or an outsider businessman had to buy goods from a market, but, not directly from the farmers.
In this process, the only gainers were the agents; on the other hand, both farmers and consumers are losers.
When the farmer brings his year-long hard work to the markets, the buyers, i.e the agents get together and buy the crop of the farmer at a very low cost.
Later, these crops are available to the consumer at a higher price. All this happened under the nose of honest officers. Interestingly, the officers of the market's board were also allegedly involved in this business.
The "chairman" of the market's board was appointed by paying a bribe to the local MLA. A few also came from the political lot. All this loot was being done under the cover of the APMC Act.
Secondly, the then government-imposed various taxes and commissions on the farmer under the guise of the APMC Act. For example, the farmer was also imposed 3% market fee, 3% rural development fund and 2.5% commission on selling his crop in "Krishi Upaj Markets" etc., this wasteful expenditure came to around 10%. In many states, this expenditure reached 20%.
Crop theft cases were very common in markets. Many times the crop is not sold for several days; the farmer himself has to monitor the crop. Once the crop arrives in the market, the farmer has to sell it at the price fixed by the "middlemen".
Also, the farmers cannot take his crop to other markets from his state as the sale of crops in other state’s markets was illegal under the APMC Act. The Act applied to all agricultural produce whether - vegetables, fruits, or grains. Due to this, an apple from Himachal Pradesh sold for 10 rupees per kg reaches Rs 100 per kg in other states.
Three ordinances have been brought by the PM Modi-led BJP government to improve the condition of farmers. In which the following improvements have been made:
- Now the farmer can sell his crop outside the markets and also inside the markets.
- Any person, who has a PAN card, can buy farmer's goods.
- If the crop is sold outside the market then the state government cannot collect any tax from the farmer.
- The farmer can sell his crop to any person in a state.
- The farmer is now free to do "contract farming".
- In contract farming, it will be the responsibility of the buyer to provide the necessary resources and inputs for a good yield of the crop after the agreement of the sale of produce from a company or trader. That is, the buyer will provide agricultural equipment, machinery etc. to the farmer.
- The crop grown under contract farming shall be exempted from the provisions of the Rules of Law relating to sale of agricultural produce and the Essential Commodities Act.
Many people are propagating against these laws, which is the following:
- Allegations: Government has ended mandating?
Answer: The government did not end mandating. There will be markets. But, the Government has given an option to the farmers, that if he gets the right price, he can sell his crop anywhere i.e both in the market as well as outside the market.
- Allegations: Government ending MSP?
Answer: Mandating is a different thing and MSP is a different thing. All crops, vegetables, fruits come under the mandate. MSP is not available on all crops.
- Accusation: Billionaires buying the entire crops
Answer: They can still buy, by putting the middlemen in the middle.
These three laws are laws for the emancipation of farmers and rural economies.
Today, this government has removed the "ban" imposed by the Congress on the farmers, freed "everyone" to sell their produce, and opened the "whole country market" for the farmers.
Farmers will not have to pay any tax.
All those who are protesting have their own understanding,
No "farmer-friendly" government has ever been formed and nor will be formed in the future; because PM Modi knows very well that "farmers and young people" are the basis of the country.