Hundreds of academicians from across the country have urged the Central government to immediately abandon the three new farm reform laws , which they said “pose a major threat to farming communities all over India”. In a statement issued on Wednesday, they also expressed concern “about the farmers’ protests and their suffering at the borders of Delhi”.
The 413 signatories included several from agricultural universities, a number of professors and researchers from some of the top institutions in India and the world, and former chief scientist of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research Gauhar Raza.
They urged the government to “launch a nationwide debate starting at the village level, involving stakeholders from all sections of society before framing laws and policies which will help farming communities and other marginalised communities in the long-term”.
The academicians recommended that farming could be made into a sustainable and profitable activity by announcing minimum support prices (MSP) for a large number of crops, specifying State-wise quotas for government procurement, and making the MSP rate legally binding for all other buyers as well.
The statement also called for price control on farm inputs such as manure, seeds and power, farm loan waivers, and a revival of the village-based development model so that migration to cities could be curtailed.
It warned that the Centre’s proposed “commodity market model” was not viable in India as it could lead to food instability and exploitation of small farmers. “The winding up of government controlled markets allowing contract farming by companies will lead to land-owning farmers slowly being forced to become tenants, the way they were in the older feudal system of land holdings,” said the statement.