Agri Business

‘Farmers themselves can control the supply chain, create brands’

Radheshyam Jadhav Pune | Updated on December 07, 2020 Published on December 07, 2020

File photo of Farmers staging a demonstration against the Centre’s farm reform laws in New Delhi.   -  R_V_Moorthy

‘Centre must decentralise reforms and allow States to take the call’

Shetkari Sanghatana (SS), the apex farmers’ body in Maharashtra, says that farmers must not join the Bharat bandh called by farmers’ unions to protest against three agri-marketing laws. SS has warned that if the Centre withdraws the new laws, no political party will ever dare to bring reforms in the agri sector in future. A section of agri experts insist that with FPOs, farmers can themselves control the supply chain, create brands, and get rid of ‘feudal-age entities’ like APMCs.

“As per the demands by the agitating farmers, the APMC and MSP systems will continue and there is no reason for the agitation. The demand to scrap the laws is completely wrong. The agitating farmers are insisting that the system which forced farmers to end their lives all these years should be continued,” said SS President Anil Ghanwat.

Agriculture expert Vinay Hardikar insists that the government must not withdraw the laws. “Instead of the demand to withdraw the laws, the discussions must be on farmer-centric terms and conditions in the laws. There is no point in fearing private capital coming into agriculture. Every time the issue of agri reforms get politicised, and I am sure that if the BJP were in the opposition they would have taken the same stand that the opposition parties today are taking,” he said. Hardikar added SEZs were opposed in the similar fashion, but today SEZs have benefitted farmers across States.

Vilas Shinde, Chairman and Managing Director of the Nashik-based FPO Sahyadri Farms, says that the condition of farmers is similar to that of a parrot in a cage which is unable to fly under the open sky and enjoy freedom. “The most important factor is negotiating power and farmers don’t have it. Farmers’ collectives like FPOs have a major role to play to increase farmers’ negotiation power. Farming should be done professionally; it should become an enterprise and the farmers, entrepreneurs. We have to deal with farming as an industry,” said Shinde, adding that the discourse of the current farming reforms must be targeted to strengthen the negotiating powers of farmers.

According to agri analyst Deepak Chavan, the law pertaining to farmers being allowed to sell their produce outside of the APMC has become controversial. “Maharashtra has been executing the Model Act since 2003, and as per these reforms, poultry and cattle feed producer companies are buying raw materials directly from farmers. There is no evidence of farmers being exploited.”

Chavan added that there must not be blind opposition to agri reforms, and that the Centre must decentralise reforms and allow States to take the call.

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Published on December 07, 2020
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