The newly passed agriculture bills undermine the three pillars of our food security system, says Congress leader P. Chidambaram. He pointed out that the bills undermine the only regulated market available to the farmers today, without creating thousands of alternate markets that will be accessible to the farmer.
The Lok Sabha has passed three bills related to the farm sector, namely the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill.
The former Union finance minister said the bills assume perversely that the farmer and the private purchaser have equal bargaining power. They do not, he said. However, the government said the farm bills seek to empower farmers through written agreements and farmers can sell their produce at competitive prices anywhere in the country.
Chidambaram claims the government has surrendered to corporates and traders. He highlighted the absence of a clause linking the lowest price farmers would get for their produce from private buyers to the Minimum Support Price (MSP) set by the government. “The bills undermine the only regulated market available to the farmer without creating thousands of alternatives,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Shiv Sena has also questioned the government on the contentious agriculture bills. It alleged that the Center introduced the bills without consulting its allies, farmers’ organizations or opposition parties, and added that Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal resignation from the cabinet has brought the issue to the fore.
Shiv Sena, in its editoral mouthpiece Saamana said that like Maharashtra, Punjab is an agrarian economy. Before introducing the farmers’ bills, the government should have held talks with the representatives of farmers’ organizations and agriculture experts in Maharashtra, Punjab and the rest of the country, it said. Shiv Sena also stated that the newly passed bills will a create a system wherein traders can purchase farmers’ products even outside mandis.