‘New farm laws will pose a threat to food security’

Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Singh Tikait being welcomed with traditional arati before he addressed a rally in Dharwad on Wednesday.  

Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Singh Tikait, who is travelling across India to mobilise support for the farmers agitation, said on Wednesday that the new farm laws would pose a severe threat to national food security, if they are not repealed.

Mr. Tikait, who addressed two public rallies, one in front of the Gandhi statue near the Deputy Commissioner’s office and the other at Kadapa Maidan in Dharwad, said that the farm laws would ultimately lead to handing over food distribution to a few corporate players.

Mr. Tikait said that corporate houses and private players would together market hunger as ultimately all foodgrains procured from farmers would end up in private warehouses.

For long, farmers have been denied the right recompense for their hard work that goes into producing food for the nation, he said and added that the new farm laws would close down the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committees (APMCs) and hand over the entire set-up to private players on a platter.

Contradicting the claim by the BJP-led Union government that selling agriculture produce outside mandis (APMCs) by farmers would help them fetch better prices, Mr. Tikait said that in fact, the opposite would happen leading to produce being taken away from farmers at throwaway prices.

What is even worse is that the end-users would be forced to pay double the price to purchase foodgrains, if the farm laws are allowed to be implemented, he said.

He emphasised that the farmers agitation would be taken to all States in a bid to build more pressure on the apathetic and adamant Union government.

Referring to the reports about farmers being duped by buyers who had purchased their produce outside APMCs in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, he sought to know how the government would protect farmers from such deceit and exploitation.

Elaborating on the need for ensuring minimum support price (MSP) for all agriculture produce, he said that the Centre should ensure MSP for all produce and continue to allow trading in APMCs in the interest of farmers.

Linguist and social activist Ganesh Devy said that as the Centre was building a new Parliament, farmers should send soil to lay a strong foundation to the new building because the “temple of democracy” worked for the welfare of the farming communities. Addressing the gathering, the former Union Minister Babagouda Patil said that the problem of unemployment could be easily resolved if farming was made viable.

Representatives of various organisations, including Chukki Nanjundaswamy and K.T. Gangadhar, anti-corruption crusader S.R. Patil, KPCC media analyst P.H. Neeralakeri and others took part.

To intensify protest

On Tuesday, categorically stating that there was no question of withdrawing the indefinite agitation seeking repeal of the three farm laws, Mr. Tikait announced that the agitation would be taken to all States as a part of their efforts to intensify it.

Addressing presspersons in Dharwad, he said that having completed 125 days, the agitation in Delhi was gaining momentum day by day and to intensify it, a decision had been taken to tour the entire country and sensitise and motivate farmers further to revolt against the farm laws.

Mr. Tikait said that after Raita Mahapanchayats in Karnataka, a team led by himself and Yudhvir Singh and Darshan Pal would be proceeding to Gujarat, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

On the claim by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Cabinet colleagues that the new farm laws would double farmers income, Mr. Tikait said that if the new farm laws were so much beneficial, why the BJP leaders were not telling about the benefits of the new laws to voters in the five States where elections are being held. The new laws were meant for monopolising the agriculture marketing system and put farmers and consumers to hardships, he said. Mentioning that several corporate houses were on their toes to take up contract farming, he said that contract farming would be detrimental to the farm sector in the country. “Therefore, the Union government should relent and repeal the farm laws and work for the welfare of farmers by fixing MSP not only for foodgrains but also for vegetables, fruits and milk,” he said. On the efforts to silence farmers leaders, he said that such acts would only further strengthen the movement and farmers would not require any permission from the government to speak their mind out.

Another BKU leader Yudhvir Singh, said that with an objective of helping corporate houses, the farm laws had been enacted and already, the big players are building large capacity warehouses for storing foodgrains. The entry of corporate players would only monopolise the agriculture system, he said.

On the BJP’s promise of creating two crore jobs every year, he said that the BJP was instead cutting down jobs through privatisation of public sector undertakings. Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has already communicated that 5.50 lakh employees out of the total 11 lakh railway employees would lose their jobs. He said that people should stand up against such an apathetic government and uproot it.

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Printable version | May 8, 2021 6:14:48 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/new-farm-laws-will-pose-a-threat-to-food-security/article34209806.ece

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