In spite of staunch objection and and calling it as an “anti farmer move” by Shiromani Akali Dal, the opposition and a long time BJP ally, two agriculture bills were passed yesterday by Lok Sabha.
Harsimrat Kaur Badal, minister of Food Processing Industries and the only SAD representative in the Modi Government, resigned from the Union Cabinet as an protest against the bill, claiming that the bills are prejudicial to Punjab’s agricultural sector.
The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill was passed earlier in the week. The two bills that were passed by Lok Sabha yesterday are namely; the Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerse (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 and the Farmer’s (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020.
As per the Government, these amendments will help in the growth of the agricultural sector through investment in the private sector which includes building infrastructures and supplying chains for farm production in national and global markets.
The intention is to help small farmers who are not in an eligible position for bargaining of their products for a better price and are not able enough to invest in technology for better farm production.
The bills look up to permit farmers to sell outside APMC mandis which will further help farmers in getting better price and will also cut their transportation expenses. Whereas, these bills will probably lead to states losing their “commissions” and “mandi fees”.
The legislation will allow farmers to get into a contract based agreement with large retailers and agri-buisness farms with pre-agreed price for their products.
The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020, will end the imposition of stock holding limits by seeking to remove commodities like edible oil, pulses, cereals, oil-seeds, onion and potatoes from the list of essential commodities; except under extraordinary situations.
Narendra Singh Tomar, agriculture minister, said that the bills are not going to overrule the Minimum Support Price Mechanism. Moreover, sufficient production of land ownership was placed to protect farmer interests.
In against to the passing of the bills, a three day protest got organized by the farmers in Punjab. TMC, Congress, DMK and BSP opposed the agriculture sector reform bills, mentioning that they were against the interest of small and marginal farmers. Congress termed the move to be a scheme to defeat the Green Revolution.
Congress deputy leader in Lok Sabha Gaurav Gogoi said, “This Government has been eying, how they can take the farmers’ land to benefit their capitalist friends, whether is the Land Acquisition Act, whether in the industrial system through the weakening the labour courts and now this three pronged attack on the Indian Agricultural system through the two bills on farming”
Congress MPs Jasbir Singh Gill, Ravneet Singh Bittu, Gurjit Singh Aujla and Amar Singh burnt copies of the bills and said they will keep opposing the proposed legislations till the end. They also wore black robes while saying “I am a farmer and farm labourer and don’t betray me”.