We are ready to talk to farmers: Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on September 24, 2020 Published on September 24, 2020

Narendra Singh Tomar, Agriculture Minister   -  PTI

Reforms in Agriculture through the Bills passed will pave the way for better prices for the farmers, says Agriculture Minister

After announcing the increase in support price of six Rabi crops, the ruling BJP fielded Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar to invite the farmers, who are agitating in Punjab and Haryana against the just-cleared agri Bills in Parliament, for a frank decision on the bills, even at midnight”.

The Agriculture Minister and his deputy, Minister of State for Agriculture Kailash Choudhary joined the BJP spokesperson Vijay Sonkar Shastri to dub the ongoing agitation by farmers in Punjab as a result of destructive politics practiced by the Congress. The Agriculture Minister cited the reduction in market fee and rural development fee for Basmati traders and millers by the Punjab government soon after the MSP hike was announced by the Centre as an indication of the upward trend for farm produce prices in the future.

Revolutionary reforms

“Already, there is reduction in the tax for Basmati. We had said that the revolutionary reforms in Agriculture brought in by Prime Minister Narendra Modi through the Bills passed in Parliament will pave the way for better prices for the farmers. And the trend is visible,” said Tomar.

Senior ministers in the Union Cabinet have taken to write long opinion pieces and the BJP is gearing up to politically combat the agitation on the ground, especially in Punjab and Haryana, where apprehensions about destabilisation of the regulated marketing infrastructure for trade in agriculture produce as also the MSP regime is fuelling the protests.

The Centre’s bid to introduce reforms in Agriculture sector and facilitate post-harvest agri trade was reflected in crucial legislations passed in Parliament in the Monsoon Session that concluded on Tuesday.

According to the Agriculture Minister, the Congress had been advocating the same reforms but never implemented them. He said all the legislations are aimed at increasing farm income and facilitating trade and investment in Agriculture.

Ready to discuss

“The Congress is trying to mislead farmers on the agri bills. Such politics is destructive. I want to appeal to all farmers’ organisations to understand the letter and spirit of these laws which will bring revolutionary change in the farmers’ lives… If anyone has any doubts, and I want to appeal to all farmer organisations, they are welcome to have a frank discussion with us any time of the day. We are ready even at midnight to address the farmers’ concerns,” said Tomar.

He said the laws are aimed at liberating the farmer from restrictions that kept the market price low and prevented trade in Agriculture. On the issue of the MSP not having been specifically mentioned in the laws, the Minister said, “Who is saying that the MSP has not been included in the bills? It is the same set of people who ruled India for 50 years. Why didn’t they make a law for it? This has always been an executive order. There is no question of the MSP regime being disturbed by the new laws.”

Citing the Farming Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) bill, the Minister said that it liberates the farmer from transporting his produce and being forced to sell in APMC-specified zones.

“The farmer was being forced to sell in the mandis. There is 8.5 per cent tax in Punjab mandis. The farmers’ payment was not made on time. He had to bring his produce to the mandi where the crop was auctioned and he was forced to sell for fear of transporting the produce back in case he is not able to dispose of it in the mandi. We have given freedom to the farmer to sell outside the mandi premises — in warehouses, at farm gates, inter and intra-State — he can sell to whoever he wants and at whatever cost he wants,” said Tomar.

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Published on September 24, 2020
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