The Fight is Not over Yet- Farmer’s Protest

“Let us not forget that the cultivation of the Earth is the most important labor of man. When tillage begins, other arts will follow. The farmer’s, therefore are the founders of the civilization.”

Daniel Webster

On August 9, 2020, Farmers from Punjab and Haryana laid siege to the national capital region. They are raising their voices against the recently passed farm bills. It has been five months since they have left their houses and have suffered hardships from the changed weather to farmer’s giving up and dying. But no beneficial approach has been taken for them, the fight continues to go on.

After 1947, the zamindari system was abolished in the nation. The farmlands were divided into smaller parts and the tiller became the owner of those parts but still they did not acquire bargaining power for their own crops which led to traders taking advantage of this drawback. Traders used to give credit then used to buy crops during the harvest season at lower prices. The farmer used to stay poor because he never got the good price for his crop production. To decide what the right price should be in the year 1960, when the country was going through the “Green Revolution”, APMC’S (Agriculture Produce Marketing Committees) were introduced which began to regulate the farm produce. Except the committee no one was allowed to buy produce from farmers. They will give traders a license and space to buy. In this system farmer is supposed to get different rates at which he wants to sell his production.

The Farmers' Protests Are a Turning Point for India | Time

But, till today unfortunately the farmers don’t decide the price the traders do. Even today the farmer is a price taker and not a price maker. No matter who makes the laws or tries to raise their opinions and concerns the atrocities have to be faced by the farmer’s.  As a result, they are dealing through several problems like lack of mechanization, soil erosion, agriculture marketing and so on. In India 76% of the farmer’s want to give up farming. The market needs to have a good buyer to pay a fair price. 

Amidst protest from the opposition and farmers organization, the monsoon session of the Lok Sabha passed three agricultural bills which were: – 

  1. Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce (promotion and facilitation) Bill, 2020 – to create a system where farmers and traders have the freedom to sell and purchase outside APMC’s, to promote barrier free inter state farmer produce, reduce facilitative framework for electronic trading.  If this is implemented the states will lose its revenue there are also chances that it may end the MSP based procurement system.
  • The Farmer (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 – enable farmers too access modern technology, reduce cost marketing which will boost farmers income, effective dispute resolution. If this is implemented sponsors may not like to deal with small and marginal farmers, farmers who are into contract farming will get weak in terms of negotiating.
  • The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020- removing commodities like some important food items. Essential commodities, bring investment for farm infrastructure, help both farmers and consumers by bringing price stability. If this is implemented big companies will stock commodities, which means they will dictate whatever price they say.

Before helping the farmers, we should understand what problems they are facing. Firstly, we should strengthen the dispute redressal problem. There should be an intermediary body between the traders and the farmers. So, that they understand their rights and know what contract they are signing. They can get a guarantee for their crops and expand their growth if they have someone to help them. Secondly, they should have a bargaining power on what they have produced. This should be their basic right. Lastly if the government provides the farmers with people who can help them it will create massive trust on the government. 

The success or failure of the bill depends on the implementation. It will be unfair if the farmers think that this bill is their biggest enemy which is supposed to be helping them in ways which will change the entire agricultural system of the country. If the government genuinely wants to take up an initiative to help the famers and to end the protest, they should hear the perspective of the farmers because at the end of the day it is their livelihood which is being talked about. An industry that feeds you is worth fighting for.

Farmers' Protest Underscores Modi's Challenges Before Elections - Bloomberg