New Delhi, Dec 5 (IANS) Naresh Sirohi, till recently national vice president of the Bharatiya Janata Party Kisan Morcha, has made five important suggestions to the government to resolve the farmers’ agitation. He has said that the three agricultural laws of the Union government are going to affect not only farmers but also the country’s entire population. It is necessary to find a way out of the impasse that benefits everybody concerned.
Sirohi said that after the changes in the agriculture sector at the global level in the 1990s, the three farm laws framed at present should be considered as a major initiative for agricultural reform. “These laws will affect all the people, including farmers, large corporate houses engaged in agriculture, the food processing industry, wholesalers, average retailers and even consumers,” he told IANS.
He said, “These three laws will not just affect the retail market of about about 300 million tonnes of foodgrains, 32 billion tonnes of fruits and vegetables, about 19 crore tonnes of milk produced in the country, it will also affect the entire 12,000 billion rupee strong retail economy.”
Sirohi wants the government to implement five major suggestions to resolve the agitation. The first and foremost suggestion is for a uniform system and registration system inside and outside the mandis. He said, “The apprehension of closure of APMC mandis of farmers is not without basis. The procurement of crops in the present mandis is being levied with tax ranging from six per cent to 8.5 per cent in different states. But the new system will not attract any tax outside mandis, which would create a discrepancy in trade inside and outside mandis. This will create such circumstances that the mandis will automatically begin to shut down without any formal legislation. On the one hand, the government comes up with a strong law like GST to implement one nation-one tax regime all over the country, on the other hand, it is creating a threat of discrepancies in trade in agricultural products. Therefore, in order to create healthy competition in agricultural trade, a uniform tax regime inside and outside the mandis must be evolved.”
He said that the farmers also want that any person doing business in agriculture outside mandis must not only have a PAN card but must also be registered.
The second suggestion he has given is to guarantee the minimum support price (MSP). “The farmers of the country are making losses by crop cultivation and therefore they want that even the private sector must give a statutory guarantee of procurement at MSP. Procurement of crops below (MSP) must be legally prohibited,” he said.
The third suggestion is the setting up of an Agriculture Court. Agricultural courts should be set up in place of SDM courts to settle disputes between farmers and businessmen.
As a fourth suggestion, Sirohi haas told the government that “No agreement below MSP should be recognised even in contract farming. In addition to the crops covered under MSP, the cost of the remaining crops should also be assessed under the C2 plus 50% formula for the rest of the crops including fruits and vegetables.
According to Sirohi, while amending the Essential Commodities Act, the government has deregulated all food items including cereals, edible oil, oilseeds, pulses, potato and onion. “In terms of bringing in more transparency, there is a need to create a portal at the central level wherein the details of food items procured by the trader and kept in godowns and extracted from the godowns are updated on a day to day basis.”