Raising concerns over the three new farm laws, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar on Saturday said the legislation will adversely affect the Minimum Support Price (MSP) procurement infrastructure and weaken the mandi system by restricting the power of agriculture markets.
“Reform is a continuous process and no one would argue against the reforms in the APMCs or Mandi System, a positive argument on the same does not mean that it is done to weaken or demolish the system,” Mr. Pawar said on Twitter. “During my tenure, the draft APMC Rules - 2007 were framed for the setting up of special markets thereby providing alternate platforms for farmers to market their commodities and utmost care was also taken to strengthen the existing Mandi system,” the NCP chief added in his tweet.
Mr. Pawar, who served as Union Agriculture Minister from 2004-2014, said he was also concerned about the amended Essential Commodities Act. “According to the Act, the government will intervene for price control only if rates of horticultural produce are increased by 100% and that of non-perishable items increase by 50%,” he said.
The NCP chief said new agricultural laws restrict the powers of the mandi system — the collection of levy and fees from the private markets, dispute resolution, agri-trade licensing, and regulations of e-trading. “The MSP mechanism has to be ensured and strengthened further,” he added.
Mr. Pawar posted these points on his official Twitter account, comparing the draft APMC Rules 2007 to the new farm laws. He also expressed concern over the removal of the stockpiling limit. “Stock piling limits have been removed on food grain, pulses, onion, potato, oilseeds, etc. It may lead to apprehensions that Corporates may purchase commodities at lower rates and stock pile and sell at higher prices to consumers,” he tweeted.
Mr. Pawar said he virtually participated in the all-party meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in which issues related to the proposed agenda for the Budget session, farmers’ agitation, women’s Bill and other issues were discussed.
(With PTI inputs)