Farmers should be made aware of the new legislation.
Farm produce marketing efficiency must be improved via collaboration between the federal government and state governments.
The implementation of three marketing farm legislation 2020, particularly in Punjab and Haryana, has sparked intense debate, criticism, and even protest, to the point that the Supreme Court was forced to intervene and put them on hold for a period of time, despite widespread support for them.
The report of a three-member committee appointed by the Supreme Court has already been sent to the court. According to media reports, farmers and labour organisations have petitioned the government to abolish these limitations and make the report available to the general public.
While opposing the repeal of these laws and in favour of amending them in their respective areas, the Centre believes that new farm legislation would solve the fundamental flaws that present in the selling, marketing, and stocking of agricultural goods in the current state-regulated/wholesale markets (mandis).
The arguments for and against these ordinances have been advanced in academics as well, with concerns voiced about their potential to boost competition, improve marketing and pricing efficiency, as well as increase farmers’ income.
For some reason, we get a strong impression that the majority of these arguments are devoid of supporting facts and are founded on ideological and fictitious reasoning. Any line of argument in favour of or in opposition to the new legislation should be based on factual data rather than on the ideological views and opinions of the parties involved in the discussion.
There is a major and difficult problem involved in the implementation of these agricultural legislation that requires thorough consideration and examination. Apart from that, a thorough awareness of these issues among the ultimate stakeholders — that is, agricultural families — is required before an impartial examination of their ramifications can be conducted.
On this page, we provide the results of a primary survey of 1,523 agricultural families conducted in the eastern states of Bihar and Eastern Uttar Pradesh, as well as Jharkhand, Odisha, and West Bengal, among other places. In order to examine farmers’ understanding and impressions of the three new farm laws, a survey was performed with the overarching goal of determining whether adjustments to the agri-marketing system are necessary in order to increase its efficiency and the realisation of higher prices.
Awareness is at its lowest point.
The data suggest a low degree of understanding of the new agricultural legislation throughout all of the eastern states, according to the research. However, even though we live in an information-intensive digital era, hardly half of the farmers polled had heard of them; this ranged from 41 percent in Jharkhand and Odisha to 59 percent in Bihar.
In all, 54 percent of farmers in Eastern Uttar Pradesh and 44 percent of farmers in West Bengal were aware of these restrictions, according to the survey. Additionally, we discovered that the amount of awareness was positively related to the size of the farm. Notably, families from Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) communities with modest landholdings are less aware of their rights than their counterparts from Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and households from General Caste communities.
Not only do farmers have a poor understanding of the new agricultural regulations, but they also have a poor understanding of the specific contents of each ordinance, which is far worse. Even the ‘aware’ homes had very rudimentary awareness of the subject.
As many as 99 percent of the farmers in Jharkhand who had heard of them had no idea what they were about, and the results were similarly dismal in Bihar (89 percent), Eastern Uttar Pradesh (87 percent), West Bengal (84 percent), and Odisha (84 percent) (65 per cent).
There is a need for an awareness strategy.
When one considers the low level of knowledge among genuine stakeholders, it seems that having a sensible conversation about the benefits and drawbacks of regulations among the broad population of agricultural families would be almost difficult to achieve.
As a result, a thorough and strategic action plan to educate farmers about the new regulations and seek revisions to the legislation in order to better serve their interests may be required to achieve this.
In order to create a single common market for agricultural products across the country, the three farm laws aim to free farmers from onerous restrictions on selling their produce and to enable them to enter into contracts with processors and agribusiness aggregators in exchange for better prices and lower risks, as well as higher income. As a precondition, both the federal government and state governments should collaborate to establish a competitive climate that stimulates marketing efficiency while also increasing farmers’ incomes and profits.
In order to ensure that the rules and regulations prescribed in the new farm laws are appropriate, states should be given the authority to amend them as necessary, develop action plans and procedures for the proposed newer marketing platforms, such as private mandis and contract farming, and build the necessary infrastructure to support them. A competitive environment where traders can explore opportunities for forming farmer producer companies (FPCs), becoming aggregators or suppliers of bulk produce to processors, or establishing online trading/e-market platforms should be made more widely known to traders in the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) markets, according to the APMC.
In order to raise awareness among farmers about the advantages of new marketing laws, the payment system in alternative markets, the rules and practises under contract farming, and the mechanisms available for resolving their grievances, states must take the initiative in raising awareness among farmers.
Farmers and other stakeholders would benefit from increased understanding and confidence, which would assist to demystify the requirements of the new agricultural laws and, as a result, lessen the likelihood of illogical resistance and protest. It may also aid in the generation of meaningful and productive debate, as well as the identification of any necessary adjustments to the laws before they are put into effect.
New Delhi-based researchers Kumar and Sonkar are affiliated with the International Food Policy Research Institute’s South Asia Regional Office, while Bathla is affiliated with the School of Social Sciences at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. The opinions stated are those of the author.
edited and proofread by: nikita sharma