Jaipur, Sep 28, 2020-
At a time when politicians across parties are raking up the issue of the contentious farm Bills, a farmer from Rajasthan, who heads 11 districts of the state as a member of the Bharatiya Kisaan Sangh, shares his worries without bringing in politics on the issue.
Sanwarmal, explained all three Bills in detail. He says, “In the first Bill namely, the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, there is no mention of the MSP clause which has left all farmers doubtful. They are worried, thinking, that what will happen if MSP goes away. Although the government says that MSP is still there, but the Bill should have mentioned about the same. The deletion of this one line is the mother of all disputes in this Bill.”
“Secondly, if a farmer and buyer engage in any dispute, then the farmer has to go to SDM as per the new Bill. Now, there are thousands of matters already pending in SDMs’ offices in Rajasthan and farmers are tired of making rounds of the SDM office. The hearing in their matter is held only twice or thrice in the year. Now you can realise what will be the plight of the farmers if they have to go to SDM for small disputes which keep happening in their trade,” he said.
“Imagine, if a big corporate group buys farmers’ produce and goes out of the state without making payment, what will the farmer do. Although the Bill makes a provision of making payment in three days, the process is unclear and confusing. Basically, the payment should be made immediately after the crops are produced to avoid frequent tensions,” Sanwarmal added.
Under the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, buyers have been asked to buy unlimited stock of essential commodities which were earlier left limited in the quantity. Now, imagine if there is a huge stock of essential commodities, they can bring in two situations, either their prices will fall or they will go up after black-marketing and hoarding, he added.
Initially, the limit to buy essential commodities should have been increased, then its results could have been evaluated and then the final decision should have been taken, Sanwarmal says.
Under the third Bill – namely the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020, provision of contract farming has been introduced. Such a practice is seen in developed countries like America with smaller population. However, in a country like India, there are bigger families where 10 to 12 members of each family are engaged in farming in a village. Imagine if a company comes to a field of small farmers, it will hire its own men to till the farm. Where will the family members go who were farming on the fields. Without work, they will turn into criminals and crime will increase in proportion with unemployment, he adds.
These family members will either become servants of their masters or else they will go out searching for newer avenues. In such conditions, if a family disengages in farming for a few years, then it is difficult for them to get back into agriculture. Then their fields may be taken up by corporates leaving nothing for them, said Sanwarmal.
Meanwhile, on Monday, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and PCC chief Govind Singh Dotasara met Governor Kalraj Mishra and submitted a memorandum demanding the rollback of the much-disputed Bills.
On the same day, Congress MLA and former Deputy CM Sachin Pilot said that agriculture is a state subject, however, the Centre is not talking to state governments and has brought an ordinance straight away. “It has been brought under emergency. However, what is the emergency in this matter?” he asked.
Sanjay Madhav, spokesperson, Akhil Bharatiya Kisaan Sangharsh Samiti, Rajasthan said, “Agriculture basically is a state subject, however, surprisingly, no advice has been taken from any state government before bringing such ordinances and amendments. In these Covid-19 times, what was the urgency of bringing such ordinance?” he asked.
However, Satish Poonia, state BJP chief, told, “Farmers have heaved a sigh of relief with the passing of these Bills. You will be surprised to know that middlemen were fixing marriages in farmers’ families depending on their produce. If the farmers wanted a higher amount of their produce, they used to lure them to marry their sons or daughters with their relatives and the poor farmers had no say in this malpractice,” he added. (Agency)