Centre misleading farmers on benefits of contract farming: Raju Shetti

‘The passing of the ordinances in the Rajya Sabha is an attempt by the government to corporatise farming’

Published - September 21, 2020 08:02 pm IST - Pune

Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana's MP Raju Shetti. File Photo.

Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana's MP Raju Shetti. File Photo.

Remarking that the mood of the farmers in Maharashtra and across the country was one of great discontent, Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana chief Raju Shetti on Monday said that the Modi government at the Centre, in passing the contentious farm ordinances, was trying to project a false picture that contract farming was beneficial for farmers.

“The passing of the ordinances in the Rajya Sabha is an attempt by the government to corporatise farming. The Central government is trying to shirk its responsibilities in giving farmers their Minimum Support Price (MSP) by craftily pushing it [the MSP] on corporate houses,” Mr. Shetti said.

Also Read | Upcoming agriculture ordinances are new ‘zamindari system’: Congress

He observed that corporate firms were not bound to guarantee farmers fair prices for their produce.

“There is no provision in these Bills as to how our farmers are going to be guaranteed fair prices. They will end up at the mercy of big corporate entities and powerful middlemen once these Bills become law,” said Mr. Shetti, a former two-time MP from Hatkanangale in Kolhapur.

As evidence of just how deep-seated was the discontentment against the three farm ordinances, Mr. Shetti pointed that even the Shiromani Akali Dal, which had deep rural roots, was planning to sever ties with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

“A party like the Akali Dal that has originated from the rural hinterland is contemplating exiting the NDA. This shows how much opposition there is to these Bills in the country’s rural areas,” he said.

Mr. Shetti’s outfit, along with the All-India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), are among the major farmer organisations in Maharashtra that will be participating in the all-India bandh called by the Akhil Bhartiya Kisan Samanvay Samiti on September 25.

Watch | Why are the agriculture bills being opposed?

In addition, the SSS would also be launching a State-wide ‘ Kisan bachao , Corporate hatao (save farmers, eliminate corporates) campaign in Maharashtra.

“We will be intensifying this campaign in stages,” Mr. Shetti told The Hindu from Kolhapur.

Remarking that the Centre’s actions were fundamentally “anti-farmer” in nature, Dr. Ajit Nawale, State general secretary of the AIKS decried the passage of the bills as a “betrayal of farmers and the agriculture sector”.

Also Read | Rajya Sabha passes two farm Bills amid fierce protests

“While we agree that corruption within agricultural market committees must be stopped and that there should be a competitive environment outside these market committees, however, if farmers have grievances within the APMC, then we have recourse to solve them. But no such alternative exists in this corporate model offered by the Centre,” he said, remarking that the farm ordinances only looked good from the outside with their alleged promise of unfettering farmers from archaic farm laws.

Dr. Nawale said that the Centre, thanks to its majority in Parliament, had steam-rolled the Bills that denied guaranteed prices to farmers.

“The Bills will disrupt the market committee system, thus relieving the government of its responsibilities and binding agriculture and farmers to powerful corporates, traders, brokers and exporters. But this government must remember that even though the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) has a majority in Parliament, farmers have a majority across the country,” he said.

Also Read | Farmers’ Produce Bill will affect welfare measures, says Rajasthan Agriculture Minister

Meanwhile, BJP State president Chandrakant Patil hit out at the farmer leaders protesting the ordinances, dubbing their opposition as “selfishness”.

“These Bills are not anti-farmer but meant to put them at an even greater advantage. While farmer leaders keep changing their stance according to their convenience for selfish political reasons, ordinary farmers in the State and the country are well aware that these Bills are to their advantage and that they will get more MSP once they are into contract farming,” said Mr. Patil.

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