The farm Bills passed by the Parliament will certainly prove to be a watershed moment for farmers in the country. The Bills will not only provide farmers a freedom to trade their produce across states, the farmers have also been empowered to turn themselves into traders of their own yields.
In substantial terms, the two farm Bills, the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill are also visionary. These Bills for the first time will ensure a sustainable and profitable future for millions of farmers in the country.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has rightly said that change in the farming sector is the need of the hour. Indeed, there wasn’t a law that gave freedom to farmers in taking decisions about their produce.
Rather, their hands were tied in the sale and purchase of agricultural goods. Farmers were restricted from selling their agricultural produce outside the notified Agricultural Produce Market Committee yards.
They were also restricted to selling their produce only to registered licensees of the State governments. Besides, barriers existed in free flow of agricultural produce between various States due to the prevalence of various Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees-related legislations enacted by various State governments.
But now, the two farm Bills are set to change the course of Indian farmers’ lives. They can engage in commerce of their agricultural goods outside the physical premises of markets notified under State Agricultural Produce Marketing legislations.
Remember, Indian agriculture is characterized by fragmentation due to small holding sizes. It has certain weaknesses such as weather dependence, production uncertainties and market unpredictability. This makes agriculture risky and inefficient in respect of both input and output management.
In this backdrop, the two farm Bills are revolutionary in nature as they will now rid farmers of unnecessary hurdles that they used to face in handling farm related issues. Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar’s statement that the two farm Bills will not impact the procurement at Minimum Support Price (MSP) nor “mandis” set up under State laws will be closed down has further set the tone for the Bills’ acceptance as a tool for farmers’ uplift.
In fact, the government is bound by its commitment to double the income of farmers. It has offered the farming community an opportunity to cheer.While these Bills will open up more choices for them, they will also help in reducing marketing costs. This apart, the Bills will help farmers of regions with surplus produce to get better prices and consumers of regions with shortages, lower prices.
The Bills also proposes an electronic trading in transaction platform for ensuring a seamless trade electronically. This is the reason a majority of farmers associations have welcomed the decision of the government in getting the farm bills passed by the Parliament.
Federation of All India Farmers Associations (FAIFA) has termed the passing of Bills as a timely move of the government in ensuring that farmers receive fair price of their produce and they remain in control of their incomes.
“These timely crucial steps taken by the government will serve as cornerstones for envisioning a fair market for farmers that lets them receive their fair price by letting them be in control of their incomes with freedom to trade,” FAIFA president B V Jaware Gowda said in a statement.
What is, however, significant is that the new set of farm Bills will help accelerate agricultural growth through private sector investment in building agricultural infrastructure and supply chains for the country’s farm produce in national and global markets. They will help in generating employment opportunities and boosting the rural economy, which in turn, would help strengthen the national economy.
Another noteworthy fact connected with the two farm Bills is that they will pave the way for creating “One India, One Agriculture Market” and will lay the foundation for golden harvests for millions of hard working farmers of India.
Script: Shankar Kumar, Journalist