Amid the uproar following the passing of the farm bills in Rajya Sabha despite protests by opposition as well as farmers’ organisations, the Right to Food Campaign has appealed to the President to not endorse the bills.
Stating that the bills—the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020—will have serious implications on the well-being of farmers as well as food security, hunger and malnutrition, a statement by the Right to Food Campaign said, “The provisions of the National Food Security Act 2013 (NFSA 2013) that aims to ensure food security for all, has been completely ignored by the government while presenting these three bills in the Parliament. [...] These three farm bills provide a completely different vision where the state’s role in procurement will reduce and the market is opened up for corporate interests without any protective regulation.”
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The Campaign also said that it is “unacceptable” that no dialogue with any of the state governments took place before introducing the bills and they have been passed in the Parliament although the Constitution of India lists agriculture as a state subject.
“In the pretext of giving farmers greater freedom to decide to whom and where they sell their produce, the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 basically undermines the APMC mandis. This completely ignores that small and marginalized farmers have limited capacities to sell their produce anywhere in the market, since they cannot afford the transportation cost and also because they have to repay loans to creditors. They have little bargaining power if they have to individually deal with big corporates, whose profits this Bill seems to be facilitating,” alleged the statement.
While accusing the government of pushing the farmers towards an uncertain life and livelihood, the Campaign has asked the government instead to increase the MSP to 150% of cost and develop mandis at every block level under the decentralised procurement system.
Read the full statement here.