In depth: Why are farmers protesting?
It’s been more than a month now that farmers are protesting at the Delhi border against the farm laws passed by the Narendra Modi government.
The laws against which the farmers are protesting are – the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020. They want a complete rollback of the farm laws. The two laws have already been passed by the Lok Sabha and approved by the President.
The government’s stand
However, the government claims these Acts will transform Indian agriculture and attract private investment. The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, provides for contract farming, under which farmers will produce crops as per contracts with corporate investors for a mutually agreed remuneration. According to the government, The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020 liberates farmers by giving them the freedom to sell anywhere. But the farmers’ organisations claim that this would lead to corporatisation of agriculture.
What do they fear
The farmers fear the government will no longer continue the procurement of farm produce at the Minimum Support Price (MSP). Mandis, where farmers have been selling their produce until now, will cease to function as big private players will dictate prices of farm produce. As a result, these very big companies will be in advantage in case of disputes.
For now, the government has offered to amend the laws but the farmers’ organisation do want anything less than scrapping them altogether.
Did you know?
Farmers Day is celebrated every year on December 23 in honour of farm leader Chaudhary Charan Singh. He was a former prime minister and also credited with the progress in farm laws in India.