Chennai, June 4 (IANS) The Central government should not only fix the minimum support price (MSP) for all farm produce, including vegetables, but also ensure that the produce is bought at that price, said a top leader of Tamil Nadu Federation of All Farmers’ Association.
According to him, if this is not done, the farmers would be forced to sell at a price fixed by middlemen, which will be less than the cost.
“The proposed amendment to the Essential Commodities Act will only help online traders, foreign investors and multinational companies,” said P.R. Pandian, Tamil Nadu Federation of All Farmers’ Association in a statement on Thursday.
According to him, owing to the coronavirus pandemic, the agricultural produce is expected to go down in the world, barring India.
While taking steps to attract foreign investors in the farm sector, the Central government is not listening to the woes of the Indian farmers, he added.
“The government is not willing to compensate the loss suffered by farmers as their produce — vegetables, flowers, fruits and other products – rot due to lockdown,” Pandian said.
Pandian also said the government is not willing to write off the farm loans.
According to him, the government has allowed online trading in farm products which will not benefit farmers or the nation.
Pandian alleged that the announcements made by the government on Wednesday will help the online traders, speculators and the hoarders.
“The statement that farmers can themselves fix the selling price is nothing but the government avoiding its responsibility,” he added.
According to him, farmers do not have the stock holding power as they have to raise cash for the next crop.
“On the other hand, online traders can buy at low rates from the farmers, store it in a warehouse, cold-storage and raise bank loans against the stock at concessional rates. Once there is a shortage in the market, they can sell at a higher price in the domestic market and even export it,” Pandian said.
On June 3, the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided to amend the Essential Commodities Act. According to the government, the amendment will take out commodities such as cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onion and potatoes from the list of essential commodities.
This will remove fears of private investors of excessive regulatory interference in their business operations, the government said.
“The freedom to produce, hold, move, distribute and supply will lead to harnessing of economies of scale and attract private sector/foreign direct investment into agriculture sector. It will help drive up investment in cold storages and modernisation of food supply chain,” the government said.