Tamil Nadu

Bills evoke muted response from T.N. farmers

The three Bills on agriculture reforms have evoked a relatively muted response from farmers of Tamil Nadu.

The Opposition, led by the DMK, has called for State-wide demonstrations on September 28.

Different reasons are cited for the response of the farmers. Primarily, regulated markets, ‘mandis’ as they are called in the northern States and one of the focus areas of the reforms, have a limited role to play in trading operations in the State. There are 283 regulated markets in the State under 26 market committees.

“Generally, about 10% of the overall volume of produce is being traded through regulated markets in the State. At times, it may go up to 25% but not more than that,” said K. Shanmugam, a member of the Namakkal Farmer Producer Company, which has about 1,000 farmers under its fold.

No compulsion

Two, there is neither any compulsion on farmers, unlike in the north, to sell their produce through the regulated markets nor the strong dose of disincentive for transactions outside these markets.

C. Ramasamy, former Vice-Chancellor of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, said that though traders, who transact outside the markets, have to pay 1% of the value of the agricultural produce as market fee when they buy produce from the farmers, the system of surveillance is quite weak.

Thirdly, the State’s farm market has been functioning under virtually de-regulated conditions for nearly 30 years. Unlike in Punjab, where the regulated markets allow commission agents to trade, Tamil Nadu has prohibited such agents by law.

As the transactions outside the regulated markets are allowed anywhere in the State, farmers and traders can involve themselves in trading directly, subject to the latter paying the market fee, which has been kept low.

In view of the prevalence of this system since 1991, the farmers do not feel exercised over the Bill to provide an alternative trading mechanism over and above the regulated markets, felt G. Ajeethan, technical secretary to the Consortium of Indian Farmers’ Associations.

He added that the farmers are accustomed to the system of prices being determined on the basis of market indicators.

In 2017, the State government introduced unified licence for trading at all markets in the State, instead of getting a licence from each of the 26 market committees, and a single-point levy of market fee, instead of a multi-point levy by the panels, besides allowing e-trading. All these measures prepared farmers to face changes, said a veteran policy-maker.

V. Sathyanarayanan and S. Venkatesan, farmers of Thiruvarur and Cuddalore districts, said that agriculturists require more time to gather clarity on the Centre’s measures.

Mr. Sathyanarayanan wanted the authorities to ensure effective dissemination of the message that the proposed amendment to the Essential Commodities Act will have no bearing on grain procurement at minimum support prices for the public distribution system.

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Printable version | Nov 27, 2020 8:49:44 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/bills-evoke-muted-response-from-tn-farmers/article32680701.ece

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