Upcoming agriculture ordinances are new ‘zamindari system’: Congress

Randeep Singh Surjewala . File   | Photo Credit: Akhilesh Kumar

Ahead of the monsoon session of Parliament, where three agricultural ordinances, including the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 will come up, the Congress said that these three are part of a calculated design by the government to help crony capitalists at the cost of farmers and called it the new “zamindari system”.

The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020, amends the existing act to remove all agricultural commodities from the list of essential commodities. The other two ordinances that are on Parliamentary agenda include the Farming Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020 to promote barrier-free inter-State and intra-State trade and commerce outside the physical premises of markets notified under State Agricultural Produce Marketing legislations; and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020, which provides an enabling legal framework for contract farming.

“The Modi Government has dealt a deadly blow to the agriculture sector through these three ordinances. These black laws are the document of a conspiracy to ring a deathknell to agriculture and crores of farmers, agriculture labourers and commission agents (aarhtis). This is a well-calculated evil design to mortgage agriculture and farming in the hands of crony capitalists,” Randeep Singh Surjewala, chief Congress spokesperson said on Thursday afternoon at a virtual press conference. Equating the Narendra Modi government with British East India Company, Mr. Surjewala accused the government of being anti-farmer.

In a point by point rebuttal to the ordinances, Mr. Surjewala said that destroying the Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMC) would mean that farmers will not get a minimum support price (MSP). In Bihar, the APMCs were shut in 2006. “Today, the plight of farmers in Bihar has gone from bad to worse. Agents are purchasing crops from the farmers at throwaway prices and selling that crop in other States at MSP and making huge profit margins,” he added.

He said that the Modi-government’s claim that now the produce can be sold anywhere in the country is a white lie and even today, the farmer can sell his produce in any State. “But what is the factual truth? As per the agriculture census 2015-16, 86% of farmers in the country owned less than five acres of land. Average land holding is 2 acres or less than that. In such a situation, 86% of farmers cannot transport or ferry their farm produce to other places, but have to sell at the nearest grain market orvegetable market,” Mr. Surjewala said.

With the scrapping of the APMCs, a source of income for the States will also dry up, he said.

The biggest flaw in the contract farming ordinance, Mr. Surjewala said, is that MSP is not mandated. “When the mandi system is abolished, then the farmer will be solely dependent on contract farming and the big companies will decide the price for the farmer’s crop on his field at their own will. This is the new ‘zamindari system’,” Mr. Surjewala added.

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Printable version | May 16, 2021 4:21:21 AM |

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