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The three things that make the agricultural (farming) reforms and changes in India by Govt. as logical and mandatory

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The three things that make the agricultural (farming) reforms and changes in India by Govt. as logical and mandatory Empty The three things that make the agricultural (farming) reforms and changes in India by Govt. as logical and mandatory

Post by Seva Lamberdar Wed Dec 09, 2020 11:20 am

The Govt., besides the old adage 'he who pays the piper calls the tune', is in a strong position to introduce its reforming agenda on farming / agricultural practices and policies, considering

(1) The Govt. regularly provides financial help and subsidies (including in the purchase of seeds, fertilizers, electricity etc.) to people engaged in farming and agriculture;

(2) Many times in the past, either at farmers' imploring and insistence or on its own, the Govt. had to come to farmers' rescue during their financial difficulties, such as to forgive / excuse farming bank loans carried by farmers which they were unable to pay back thus facing the possibility of losing farms and going bankrupt and out of business which would lead many defaulting farmers to also threaten suicides and some of them actually commit suicide;

(3) The class and hereditary farmers -- even if they happen to be not engaged in farming / agriculture currently and if they now are even quite rich and earning / having enormous money and wealth (through agriculture and other ventures) -- automatically and immediately qualify for and receive Govt. aid (in the form of quotas and reservations, as OBC) in education and jobs to their sons and daughters (in childhood and as adults), with any restrictions on Govt. aid in their case due to enormously high income / wealth coming only later (after the initial automatic and immediate qualification for Govt. aid according to their class / heredity as farmer).
Seva Lamberdar
Seva Lamberdar

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https://docs.google.com/document/d/1bYp0igbxHcmg1G1J-qw0VUBSn7Fu

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Post by Seva Lamberdar Fri Dec 11, 2020 4:09 pm

India had a serious problem of rapid population growth in the past seventy three years since Independence, as the number of people in India more than quadrupled from 33 crore (330 million) in 1947 to nearly 140 crore (1400 million or 1.4 billion) now (2020). Meanwhile, the land area in India remained the same throughout, which, in reality, even underwent decrease agriculturally as more and more land area, previously used for agriculture to grow food and raise animals etc., was put to use for new housing, roads, schools , offices and other infrastructures to accommodate rising population. Thus, in addition to the land in India becoming less and less available agriculturally and generally on per capita basis in the past seven decades,  there were also greater demands for more space (including cleaner environment), water and energy (electricity, petroleum etc.) etc. to satisfy the need of continuously increasing population (people and animals), in and out of agriculture. The problem is at a critical stage now.
 
Naturally, there is greater pressure on Govt. these days to be proactive and do better in decisions and management involving land, water, energy and environment including the need for it to urgently introduce / implement  changes and improvements in farming policies and practices, because it is no longer sufficient to have the Govt. merely grant subsidies and financial aid to farmers to purchase seeds, fertilizer and electricity etc., excuse / forgive farmers' unpaid / outstanding bank loans and allow quotas / reservations in education and jobs for sons and daughters of people using the OBC farmer label.
Seva Lamberdar
Seva Lamberdar

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https://docs.google.com/document/d/1bYp0igbxHcmg1G1J-qw0VUBSn7Fu

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Post by Seva Lamberdar Sat Dec 12, 2020 9:25 am

Here is an informative article on recently planned Agri-reforms in the following, from Facebook (Supreet Deshpande, Dec. 11, 2020, https://www.facebook.com/supreet.tabla/posts/10214978316850811 ):

An unnamed FB post regarding India's Agri reforms was quite sensational. That a few dear friends of mine shared it made me read more about the claims made therein. This post is to merely share my findings. That it may point out inaccuracies and misinformation in the unnamed post, it is unavoidable. I mean no personal offense to the author or those who shared that post.

India was not producing enough grains for its population at the time of independence and till 60's. To boost indigenous production of staple grains, then government of India decided to incentivize farming by offering Minimum Support Price (MSP) in 1966, which guaranteed that all wheat and rice produced by the farmer would be bought by the government. MSP was extended to some other crops gradually. With worry of price & uncertainty of sale taken off their backs, the farmers worked hard over the years and made India not only self-sufficient in wheat and rice but super surplus in these grains. In this the farmers of Punjab played a yeoman's role.

But this guaranteed price and purchase by government made farmers to stick to the same crop over the years despite knowing its surplus production in the country and most did not partly move to other crops which could provide them higher returns. The result is that India has surplus of wheat and rice but is short on pulses and oil seeds which it must import. In such situation, should the government buy even the surplus of wheat & rice at MSP out of taxpayers' money merely because that is what farmers prefer to produce and also keep losing foreign currency to import pulses and oil seeds at the same time? Who and what can justify this? Answer to that elementary - Politics.

No responsible government can abandon farmers merely because the objective of food security for the country is achieved. But to keep buying surplus wheat and rice at MSP from taxpayers' depriving other sections of society who also need government's support in not the optimal solution. Instead, a multi-faceted solution covering at least the following is needed to ensure that farmers' hard work gets due return.

1. Incentivize farmers to align their crops with the country's evolving/changing needs

2. Open new sales channels for the farmers so that they get fair price for their produce through competition among the channels

3. Get small farmers out of the clutches of middlemen and moneylenders

4. Distribute crops among regions which suit the weather (especially rainfall) in the region

5. While doing all of the above, the system that has been functional for years must remain an option to the farmer

6. Retain MSP for all main crops but only for the quantity that is needed to ensure for food security of the country

7. Create a system through which even small farmer can export their produce if government has achieved their purchase target

Realizing this, the Congress government in 2013 attempted to bring Agri reforms but could not get them passed. Modified and more comprehensive reform were passed by the current government in 2020. The hue and cry is probably because these Agri reforms bills break the monopoly of the long standing 'Mandi' system which made traders richer and kept small farmers poor. How many farmers commit suicide in India is often mentioned to highlight the poor condition of farmers but no one addressed its root cause - Monopoly of 'Mandi' system and absence of alternate sales avenue exposed small farmers and whatever to little land they held to the exploitative traders and moneylenders who grabbed their land at first available opportunity. Anyone who has done farming in India knows that this perpetual worry alone is enough to drive small farmers to suicide.

Given the monopoly of the Mandi system, the 'Mandi' overlords hand in glove with moneylenders could exploit individual small farmers to pull down the price they pay to the actual farmer to enhance their own profits. Over the years, in absence of an alternative sales channel to the ‘Mandi system’, the poor farmers had no option but to suffer their bullying. These overlords in collusion with corrupt local government officials never let the whole MSP reach small farmers, who would keep a portion of the MSP that small farmers are entitled to get. To prevent this, the current government started direct bank transfer of MSP to small farmers cutting out such corruption. Several states implemented it but not Punjab where small farmers continue to get exploited by such overlords. How unfortunate.

The Agri reforms have attempted to emancipate poor farmers from the clutches of such exploiters by opening new avenues for them to sell, breaking the monopoly of 'Mandi system' but not abolishing it as some erroneously claim. It also provides freedom to individual farmer to decide to sell where they get best price for their produce and help small farmers to get more organized through contract farming which is already done in five states of India including Punjab. However, the success of Agri reforms would depend largely on how it gets implemented. Extending contract farming as an option would not only provide similar level of security to farmers which MSP provided in terms of assured price but part payment in advance will prevent them from the clutches of money-lenders' usurious terms.

I could see no existing support to farmers being taken away upon reading of the three Farm Bills. Income from agriculture was tax-free whatever be that income. It remains. The claim that MSP has been removed because it is not part of bills is a mischievious attempt at misinformation or out of ignorance. Fact is, MSP was never a part of any law in India and was always in government's executive domain for good reason. It was because MSP needs to be revised from time to time based on production costs and cannot be set in stone at one time. It is the current government which set MSP at 150% of the production cost which would be determined by the Agriculture universities around the country every year. Can these people undermine production cost? Yes and if they farmers protest for that, I am sure, they would get public support unlike now and make the government to bend.

The claim that the farmers cannot go to courts against companies who undertake contract farming with them is patently false. Fact is that any such dispute normally would go to civil courts which have a huge backlog and cases would linger on for years. To prevent this, the Agri Bills create a dedicated three layered time bound dispute resolution mechanism. The highest level - Appellate bench has the same powers as those of civil courts. And not only that, each level of resolution system must deliver verdict in 30 calendar days. This would not only ensure that farmers get timely resolution but being available locally, it will save poor farmers from making rounds of the courts in the nearest town. The post goes on to say that this system can be corrupted by private companies. Prey I ask, which system cannot be corrupted? In fact, the persons given the responsibility for adjudication are less likely to go against local villagers because they have to get elected by the very same people in the first place and that this election is periodic, getting elected will get progressively difficult if someone is corrupt.

The claim that the bills allow for storing an unlimited quantity of any essential commodity or food product is correct and on first glance, it appears horrendous. But the government has come out with scheme to incentivize entrepreneurs to build private cold storage warehouses providing small farmers 'storage on demand'. The small farmers can rent the space they need for the period they need on pay as you go basis. Therefore, they will come at par with large traders who may have their own storage resulting in the exact opposite of what the post expressed fear of.

The last few paragraphs of the post show hatred for the political party in power in India. This falls in the domain of opinion and it is not my business to comment upon it. Those sharing such opinion can hope that Indians choose someone else of their liking in future. But given the big decisions that this government has not dithered in taking unlike some previous governments, such happening appears unlikely in near future. More so because the ‘third world country’ India’s GDP today is higher than that of the first world country - UK. At the end, I thank the author of the referred post for making me read India’s Agri reforms myself and educate myself enough so as not to form an opinion based on the FB posts of others. So I exhort readers of this post of mine to do your own reading of the Bills, yourself and not form opinion based on this post.
Seva Lamberdar
Seva Lamberdar

Posts : 6573
Join date : 2012-11-29

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1bYp0igbxHcmg1G1J-qw0VUBSn7Fu

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Post by Seva Lamberdar Mon Dec 14, 2020 8:56 am

"All India Kisan Coordination Committee members support Farm Acts amid protests," The Tribune (Dec. 14, 2020),   https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/all-india-kisan-coordination-committee-members-support-farm-acts-amid-protests-184184
Seva Lamberdar
Seva Lamberdar

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Join date : 2012-11-29

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1bYp0igbxHcmg1G1J-qw0VUBSn7Fu

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