Farm Bills: Opposition should not mislead farmers, ready to hold talks on issues

PM Narendra Modi interacts with farmers

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday had given a befitting reply to his “detractors,” particularly the opposition parties, who are opposing new farm laws just for the sake of Opposition, misleading farmers over the Minimum Support Price.

It was really “unfortunate” that the Opposition tried to create an atmosphere that private firms might grab farmers’ land under the new contract farming law, enacted by the Centre. The opposition parties, particularly the Congress jumped into the issue of new farm laws and they are protesting, along with farmers’ organisations, for the “sake of their existence.”

Contrary to this, the Prime Minister Modi on Friday listened to success stories about benefits of the new Acts while interacting with farmers from seven states in the country. After releasing Rs 18,000-crore funds to 9-crore farmers under the PM-KISAN scheme, Modi held interaction with farmers from Arunachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Odisha and Haryana.

In their interaction with the PM, the seven farmers shared their success stories and also highlighted the benefits of recently enacted agriculture laws. They also shared their good experience of working with private players under contract farming agreements. “Sitting in Arunachal Pradesh, you are sure that your land is safe. But some people are spreading a myth that those who enter into a contract with a company for sale of crops will also lose their land. So many lies are being spread. I am happy that you have shared your experience,” Modi said while interacting with a farmer from Arunachal Pradesh.

The Prime Minister also said some politicians, for their own agenda, are spreading lies that the laws will impact the farmers. The farmer from the border state told Modi that a newly set up farmer producer organisation (FPO) with 446 organic growers has begun marketing its produce to Bengaluru and Delhi. Recently, the FPO tied with a private firm for the supply of organic ginger. When the PM asked if private companies have entered into an agreement for land or the crop, the farmer said, “We have entered into an agreement for finished products and not for the land.” The farmer also said he has received Rs 6,000 as part of the PM-KISAN scheme and used that money for purchase of fertiliser and meeting labour cost.

Sharing the benefit of new laws, another farmer from Madhya Pradesh informed the Prime Minister that the new legislations have given options for farmers to sell their produce. “Due to new laws, we got new opportunities. Earlier, there was only one mandi, now we can sell to private players. This year, I sold 85 quintals of kharif soybean crop to ITC e-choupal at Rs 4,800 per quintal,” he said.

During the interaction with farmers, the Prime Minister also exposed the double standards on the agriculture laws of the Opposition and versions of peasants revealed that they are really happy with the new laws. The opposition should remember that during the UPA rule, they did exactly what Modi government is doing today for reforms in the farm sector. Now that they’re losing polls, they take part in any protest for the sake of their existence. It seems that the opposition parties and particularly the Congress are opposing the government for the sake of opposition, forgetting their own work in the past. In its 2019 poll manifesto, Congress had even promised to repeal APMC Act and make trade of agriculture produce including export free from all restrictions. Moreover, when the NCP chief Sharad Pawar was union agriculture minister, he wrote to all chief ministers for ‘private sector participation’ in market infrastructure.

Three farm 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. The Centre has held multiple rounds of talks with farmers and tried to reassure them that their interests will not be compromised. But, no significant progress has been made as yet in breaking the deadlock over the laws. The protesting farmers and the government are set for another round of talks soon. Let’s hope for that best and a formula should be brought as soon as possible to resolve the impasse!

*** M Charulata