Nagaland : Farmers reach NE to spread awareness on MSP

Image credit : Bhadra Gogoi Image credit : Bhadra Gogoi

For revocation of the Centre’s new Farm bills, representatives of farmers protesting at Delhi border have stepped foot in the North East Region to gather assistance from farmers of the region.

Two Punjab based progressive farmers Sukhjinder Gill and Manjinder Singh Randhawa on Sunday spoke to media persons and said that they have come to the NE states to spread awareness on the three new Farm bills, especially on minimum support price (MSP).

Abhilash Rajkhowa, a student assisting the farmers’ tour and PH Tripathi, president of Bharatiya Farmers Agro Business Development Co-operative Ltd., detailed about the adverse effects of the Farm bills that would imply upon the farmers.

On the Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act 2020, they said that though the Government claims that the Act would help in expanding the scope of trade of farmers’ produce from selected areas to “any place of production, collection, aggregation,” the reality is far different. The farmers pointed out that 86% of India’s farmers own less than 5 acres of land and 67% of farmers own less than 2.5 acres of land.

“These layers of the peasantry are the victims of a deep economic crisis. With no resources at their disposal how can it be said that these farmers will be able to sell their produce far and wide in other mandis? If these small farmers cannot participate in the new mandis, then what are they made for?” the farmers questioned.

Regulation of tax will become void with the entry of new private mandis owned by big corporations and gradually the state mandis would become out of date along with minimum support price (MSP). “In such a scenario, the prices of crops in private markets will be reduced thereafter. Apart from this, the farmers will also have to bear the cost of storing their crops in the mandi, along with weighing, sewing, parking etc.,” they said.

The farmers also stated that as per the Government, the (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act 2020, would provide a legal supporting structure for farmers to enter into pre-arranged contracts with buyers including mention of pricing. The Bill however do not mentions about the minimum price or the minimum support price set by the Government. “Consequently, the farmers will be exploited by private players, where farmers will not get the assured prices for the crop,” they claimed.

On Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020, the farmers are not able to keep the agricultural products since majority of farmers own less than 5 acres of land. The farmers claimed that companies with bigger housing capacities would benefit from this. The companies would purchase the products at low rates and will store the products until their demand is at their peak.

“Accordingly, with this bill, any individual, company or trader can store agro-food items, which will affect the market prices by showing an artificial decline in the market. This will force small traders, retailers and all consumers to pay higher prices for food items,” they said.