Indian agriculture has been remained an epicenter of debates and discussions ever since the emergence of agri-econony as the backbone of millions of lives. And, this journey is still continue even in the age of explosion of technology when the share of agriculture in the national GDP has been continuously dwindling. Even today, it provides almost half of the country’s employment and feeds second largest population of the world. Hare, I am going to write this blog, “Transformation or transfer of agriculture market” on the backdrop of farmers bill passed by parliament.
Rationale behind establishment of APMC’s
In the age of colonial powers, Indian agriculture market was designed conveniently to fulfill the demands of agro-based industries located in the Europe, without considering the interests of producers and consumers of the nation. Consequently, most of the time country suffered from acute starvation and devastating femines. And, the degree of impovishment of farming community, especially, tillers and tenants were beyond bearable under exploitative zamindari system.
After independence, Newly elected government of independent nation took an effective step by establishing Agricultural Produce Market comittees (APMC) to address the issue of agriculture market. As per the division of powers enshrined in the seventh schedule of constitution, the duty had been assigned on the state governments to establish such committees in their respective states.
The main objectives of the APMCs was– to supervise all the produce brought in the mandis annually; to estimate food availability across mandis; and ensure timely remunerative price for farmers produce. In short, mandis were established to nurture both livelihood of farmers and food security of consumers simultaneously.
Questions over the functioning of APMCs
Absolutely flawless system is only possible in the unrealistic imagination, in respect to nations like India. So, soon APMCs were eclipsed by the various loopholes and frequently questions were raised over rationale and relevevancy of APMCs in the present context.
It is being alleged that it is the middleman and agents control the mandis in collaboration with elected local politicians, and there is rampant corruption involved in this market system. Therefore, neither farmers nor consumers are not getting theirs destined benefits out of around 7000 mandis. Simply, farmers and consumers are subject to exploitation by the hands of middleman and commission agents through this establishment.
Why the APMCs in focus now
Bjp government under the leadership of Narendra Modi, promised to double the farmers income in their election manifesto by 2022. And, now, even on the verge of 2021, theirs promise has hardly touched the livelihood of suffering farmers. Hence, recent farmers bill passed by parliament, is the least attempt made by the NDA government.
Main objectives of farmers bill
The newly passed farmers bill paved for the entry of corporate private players to procure farmers produce in parallel to present APMCs. Second, it is going to introduce the contract farming system between farmers and procuring private agents for future produce. And, third, states are released from the responsibility of control over the foodgrains in times of crisis. Overall, as per my opinion, it is the beginning of corporatization of state controlled age old Indian agriculture market.
Why clamour and complain over farmers bill
Questions are raised by the various stakeholders including the producers over the chances of dying down of mandis due to this bill. And, private players might create hegimony or monopoly in the food market to maximize profits. After all, they are poised to enter in the Indian agriculture market for what — profit maximization and not to do welfare as like NGOs. Besides, various issues, including legal support in case of dispute and accesibilities for small farmers to mandis might raise the temperature of ongoing debate. In short, as per this newly passed farmers bill, both producers and consumers will lose most according to the most of the agriculture market experts.
It is true that age old Indian agriculture market need a thoroughly transformation to eradicate lethal loopholes, hurting interests of producers, as well as consumers. At the same time, the participation of private players is equally essential to infuse the sense of competitiveness in ailing market. But, mere corporatization of agriculture market might be seen as a transfer of exploitation rather than transformation of presents APMCs. A thoughtful decision is indispensable to deal with such sensitive issue; otherwise, millions lives might face the unbearable impact in future….