“Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan”
You must have heard it multiple times. But how much we are following it, how much we believe in it. This is not clarified to many of us. because our Indian media is hiding these serious topics and spreading unnecessary fake news. Recently, the government has come up with three ordinances related to agriculture. which has infuriated the farmers of the nation. Especially the farmers of Punjab and Haryana are out on the streets to protest against these ordinances.
Why are they protesting?
The Bhartiya Kisan Union and other farmer organizations sought permission from the Haryana government for a protest rally. Rally was organized, In which more than 100 farmers rode their tractors to the site of protest, and hence some called it the “tractor protest” because farmers were protesting with tractors and were raising slogans of “Save the farmers, save the mandis”. The situations turned violent in some places, and it is alleged that the farmers were lathi-charged by the police.
Indian System of Agriculture
We will have to go back in history for a bit. When the country got independence, the whole distribution system of the agricultural sector was dominated by the moneylenders and traders in the villages. The farmers had no means to sell their produce directly in the markets. They were dependent on moneylenders and traders that in turn exploited the farmers. So, the farmers were perpetually in debt and had to face a lot of problems- which was not a great system. The government came up with a way to solve this problem – ” APMC “
Agriculture Produce Market Committee
In 1965, the government made a committee and that committee decided that mandis. The government set up special areas in the State and declared them as market areas. These market areas would be subject to the jurisdiction of the market committees. No farmer or trader would be able to sell or buy produce freely in a market area. If a trader has to procure products from the farmers in a market area, then they would require a license to do so. By this licensing system, the government-controlled these traders to some extent.
The government also claimed that the farmers would be granted a Minimum Support Price (MSP) in these markets. That is a minimum price at which the farmers would be able to sell their produce to safeguard them from exploitation. So, around that time a network of regulated mandi’s was established, and they were called APMC mandis. The farmers used to bring their products to these mandis. This was a great deal for the farmers. These market areas were regulated under the State APMC act.
Agriculture Produce Market Committee Act
When the recently protesting farmers say “save the mandis”, by mandis, they mean the APMC- these market areas under it. The market committee had extraordinary powers to grant the license to the traders. A “License raj” developed in one sense. The second flaw was that the licensed commission agents that procured produce from the farmers, started forming cartels and formulating deals with one another to collectively not buy produce from the farmers at a specified rate and so the farmers would be left with no option.
Modi Government Ordinances
These ordinances state that the areas outside these APMCs will have no taxes on sale or purchase. The farmers allege that if the government make a sale and purchase outside the mandis more attractive, due to the absence of taxes. Then this would pose a huge disadvantage for the farmers because everything in the APMC mandis is regulated, Transactions are taken into account, There also a Minimum Support Price, but no MSP exists outside these mandis. There is no Minimum Support Price for the farmers. There is no one to regulate anything and to ensure that the farmers are treated fairly and are not exploited.
The protesting farmers have 4 main demands
- A rollback of all three ordinances.
- The mandi system i.e. state government-regulated APMC mandis to remain in place.
- Their loans be cleared.
- A law should be made for MSP to be at least 50 percent more than the weighted average cost of production.
True independence for farmers would be assured MSP both within and outside mandis. MSP should be made legal. But if we improve the APMC by buiding it up and removing its shortcomings and lay a network of 42,000 mandis in India, and if we are able to provide farmers with an assured income, that’s the only way forward the solution of this entire issue. Make APMCs stronger.