Nine months of farmers protest against the agricultural laws amendments, that will leave them vulnerable

The farmers protest against the three farm laws amendments has continued since last nine months, the longest historic #FarmersProtest by the Indian farmers against 3 unconstitutional farm laws completes 9 months today, says Kisan Ekta Morcha through a tweet on 26 Aug 2021.

The “lathi charge” incident with a SDM telling police personnels to “crack farmers’ heads” has further added to the grievances of the farmers. Farmers protested after police lathi-charged them in Karnal; farmers had attempted to stop BJP chief OP Dhankar’s convoy and were slammed by the police. However, the primary issue remains, the controversial amendments to three agricultural laws.

These new series of agricultural laws amendments have triggered and sparked protests across India, which would weaken current price protections for farmers and loosen rules around farm produce pricing. Wheat and rice could drop to an untenable level if fixed prices are eliminated.

Farmers (empowerment and protection) agreement on price assurance and farmers act says that market prices will be guaranteed through contracts for food crops, which would be produced for corporate investors. 

Farmers are concerned that influential investors would oblige them to sign contracts drafted by legal practices associated with big corporations, with liability clauses difficult for poor farmers to understand. 

By amending the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, there would be no more necessity for the centre to restrict the holding of food products except in “extraordinary circumstances”. By this farmers are the most likely to benefit from removing stocking restrictions, since this could lead to unlimited demand and buying of their products. 

The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act is the bone of contention for the farmers. It allows the sale and purchase of farm produce outside the premises of the APMC Mandis. All trades (including those conducted on electronic platforms) are exempt from market fees, cess, or levy under State APMC Acts or any other state law.

The regulated market yards may lose revenue if trading moves out of APMCs and that’s a point of concern for the farmers. 

Pro-reform economists generally support the changes, claiming they will increase productivity, attract investment and increase farm incomes. While groups of distressed and angry farmers view them as unfair and exploitative.

The main concern of farmers is that wholesale markets and guaranteed prices will be wiped out, leaving them with no alternative. 

Although negotiations are ongoing, the government suggested changes to the laws and then offered to temporarily suspend them. Farmer groups, however, remain firm, saying the farmers will not settle for anything less than repealing the laws especially now, after the controversy of the “lathi charge”. 

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