Union Home Minister Amit Shah said Saturday that the opposition was providing wrong information to farmers on Farm Laws and instigating them for political gains.
In an exclusive interview, Shah said, “Opposition is instigating farmers. Farm bill will only enable farmers to earn more. He can sell outside the mandi too. Purchase for Kharif in Punjab and Haryana has begun. MSP regime will stay. None of the Bills say that MSP will cease to exist. Political parties are using this for their own gains.”
Shah said mandis will not close and that the BJP-led government has stuck to the Swaminathan report that talks of 50 percent profit for farmers. “Why would a farmer sell at lower prices. Even for contract farming, the contract is binding only for companies, not for the farmer. He can walk out of the contract any time he wants,” he said.
Farmers in several states protested last month against three new bills the government had said will open up the tightly-controlled agriculture sector to free-market forces.
The bills, passed by the Parliament in September, make it easier for farmers to sell their produce directly to private buyers and enter into a contract with private companies. The government aims to stimulate private sector investments.
Part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s agricultural reform policy, the laws will also allow traders to stock food items. Hoarding food items for the purpose of making a profit was a criminal offense in India.
Under the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act passed in 1964, it was compulsory for farmers to sell their produce at government-regulated markets, or mandis, where middlemen helped growers sell harvests to either the state-run company or private players.
The Centre said the monopoly of APMC mandis will end but they will not be shut down, and that the MSP will not be scrapped.
Farmers, particularly in the states of Punjab and Haryana, have protested against the government move. The new laws give farmers additional choices to sell their products anywhere in the country, in contrast to the earlier situation where inter-state trade was not allowed.