‘Farmers are strong, not vulnerable; they need to be given choices’
- The disruption caused by the COVID19 pandemic led to at least 12 States allowing direct marketing of agriculture produce, which offered greater options to farmers during the lockdown.
- The two new ordinances pushing agricultural marketing reform will widen choices for small farmer.
Effects of lockdown on farmers?
- Despite the lockdown, this year’s wheat harvest hit record highs, and government procurement at minimum support prices (MSP) is also higher than last year
- farmers has to sell their produce to msp centres had a line of over 2 km.
- Direct marketing was allowed and a corporate purchaser was available, that gave the farmer a choice and that changes everything.
- And that becomes the logic of bringing the trade and commerce ordinance this year.
Speaking of these two ordinances to reform agriculture marketing and facilitate contract farming, how will they help small farmers?
- A farmer’s produce is unregulated at time of production, but there are restrictions on where to sell and whom to sell, which is not there for any other commodity globally or in India. The Farm Trade ordinance will open up this ecosystem.
- This ordinance allows the small farmer to benefit from a high value product by transferring the risk to the corporate purchaser, who will buy the produce at a fixed rate. The industry can also provide technology inputs and get seeds and pesticides at wholesale prices, which will translate into higher production, higher value, higher incomes. There is also a unique provision for production agreements, where the farmer is simply paid for agricultural services rendered, and this is very useful in poultry and livestock sector
Will the safety net of MSP continue to remain effective under the new direct marketing regime?
- MSP is a support system for the farmer, where he knows he can sell at a certain place for that price.
- There is also an important provision to develop a price information and market research system under the Act.
It also creating the right ecosystem through Kisan Credit Cards, farmer producer organisations which will provide marketing and legal support, and creation of ₹1 lakh crore financing facility for post harvest management