‘Farmer’s are dying,’ or ‘Suicide of helpless farmer’ everyday phenomenon for social media to outpour their emotion over the ply of ‘Poor Famer. Pointed fingers, disdain of history, and blame game were the only outcome of each trend that ever surfaced on any social media.
‘What is leading a hard-working farmer to commit suicide?’
It was never a question that persists in the minds of the people. We had our ‘maybe’ and assumption as generic as poverty, or low production. While we were still the number one in ‘Wheat’ export and second position for ‘Rice’ export after China, we were contemplating our sentiments over the low production. From seeds to pesticides, everything had been subsidized
to farmers. India’s foodgrain has been increasing every year. Alongside wheat and rice, India is the top producer of sugarcane, pulses, and cotton. Despite all that, it was always the argument that production isn’t satisfactory enough. Arguments then plunged the failure to small farm holdings, dependency over the monsoon, unavailability of irrigation, imbalance soil nutrients, lack of fertility, unavailability of modern technology, etc.
Maybe the production wasn’t great enough on the countrywide comparison, but for a small farmer, who was holding a small land, had subsidized seeds, managed to harvest the crops with ancient techniques using natural fertilizers and hand-driven tools, was still unable to get the return on his hard work.
Athatiya or Middle-man
As always the villain of the story, the middle man had all the advantages from both sides. For a farmer whose ancestors inherited farming and techniques of farming, it wasn’t the production that was a huge problem, it was the marketing. Middlemen outlawed the morals and ethics pertaining to the value chain supply and used regulatory guidelines for monopolistic benefits.
Middleman managed to loot the farmers and retailers, he crept the prices as he pleased, he maintained the competition at his discretion. He was letting those farmers die while he enjoyed the luxury of maximum profits to himself. Laws that regulated Indian agriculture weren’t implemented in a fair and honest manner. I so wanted to be an exaggeration on my side, but the internet provides me with enough proof of how the middle man looted the poor farmer in the name of market fees, undue commission, transportation charges, lower quality, delayed supply, and whatnot. Damage in the agricultural sector was a clear result of misappropriation of return.
Truthfully, the production was sufficient enough for farmers to feed their own families if it were to be the efficient value chain supply and better return to them.
What’s in it for farmers in Farmer’s bill 2020?
On the one side, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had been claiming Farmer’s bill to be a watershed movement and on the other side, the opposition claimed it is Anti-Farmer’s and corporate-friendly. The motivation behind the Farmer’s bill 2020 is ‘To provide for the creation of an ecosystem where the farmers and traders enjoy the freedom of choice relating to sale and purchase of farmers’ produce which facilitates remunerative prices through competitive alternative trading channels; to promote efficient, transparent and barrier-free inter-state and intra-state trade and commerce of farmers’ produce outside the physical premises of market or deemed markets notified under various state agricultural produce market legislation; to provide a facilitative framework for electronic trading and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.’
As promised by the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s package, this bill was to ensure a better supply chain and better return to the farmer. It was envisioned by the year 2022 to double the income of farmers through the stimulus packages and new reforms, that allow a farmer to sell their produce directly without following the chain.
The new bill envisages ending the monopoly of the middle man.
The central government legislation had provided a barrier-free trading framework to farmers by establishing a route to sell produce outside the APMC mandi yard and inter-state trade.
Amendment of the Essential Commodities Act of 1955 had created a legal framework for contract farming and assured the prices to the farmer at the time of sowing. The three acts include:
- Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020
- Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020
- Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020
Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020
● The act expands the scope of trade areas of farmers’ produce from select areas to “any
place of production, collection, and aggregation”.
● The act allows electronic trading and e-commerce of scheduled farmers’ produce.
● State governments are prohibited from excessive market fees of any kind.
Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020
● The act provides a legal framework for farmers to enter into pre-arranged contracts with buyers including the mention of pricing.
● The act provides for a dispute resolution mechanism.
Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020
● The act allows for the center to regulate food items through essential commodities.
● The act provides for a stock limit on agricultural produce based on price rise.
While countries like the US and Canada had been at the forefront to regulate farmers’ markets,in Urban India it was still illegal. The new law is giving choice to farmers to sell their produce directly, giving the option set prices relevant to their cost. It was the middle man who fleeced by the new reforms and not the farmers.