Even before harvesting, the new crop of farm laws in the country's landscape stood aborted when PM Narendra Modi in his televised address to the nation today announced the withdrawal of the much-publicised agri laws to bring reform in the country's farm sector.
"Today I have come to tell you, the whole country, that we have decided to withdraw all three agricultural laws. In the Parliament session starting later this month, we will complete the constitutional process to repeal these three agricultural laws,” announced PM Modi.
Highlighting why the government brought these three Farm laws, PM said, "The objective of the three farm laws was that the farmers of the country, especially small farmers should be strengthened, they should get the right price for their produce and maximum options to sell the produce."
Justifying the rationale behind the repeal, PM Modi said, "While many farmer organisations have welcomed the new laws, a section of farmers opposed the reformative laws."
Why Farmers Have A Cow?
The large-scale protest against the new laws was led mostly by farmers from Punjab, and topped-up by farmers from Haryana and Western UP. The farmer organisations in Odisha too were up in arms.
"The new law will put farmers under the mercy of big corporate houses. The Centre is trying to destroy the mandi system, so that the big corporate houses can buy the produces from farmers at an ultra cheaper rate. We, therefore, had demanded the complete rescinding of the bills," said Akshaya Kumar, coordinator Nabanirman Krushak Sangathan. The farm leader is pointing finger at the following law.
- The Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act,
2020: The act is primarily aimed at giving freedom to the farmers to sell their product outside the present Mandis as established under the respective States APMC (Agricultural produce marketing committee).
In SBI report, Tusharkanti Ghosh, Chief Economist, SBI, had observed that many states levy fees/cess on-farm produces that are to be sold outside the mandis. The law was enacted to provide a level playing field. It gives the farmers the freedom to sell anywhere they want.
Farm Laws And Odisha
In the backdrop of the above explainer, how the new laws could have played a wonderful role for the State farmers have been given below.
- Punjab procures 89.6 percent of its rice produced via the mandis and Haryana (88%).
- The number of farmers availing MSP in Punjab had been 11.25 lakhs, and in Haryana, the count is 18.91 lakhs
- The total farm landholdings in Punjab stood at 10.93 lakh; whereas the farm landholding in Haryana had been 16.28lakh.
- The count of landholdings, as per 2015-16 agriculture census, in the two states that led the protest show near saturation of procurement via the mandis.
- In Punjab, marginal farmers constitute 14 percent of total farmers, and small farmers form another 19 percent.
- In Haryana, the marginal farmers constitute around 49 percent of total farmers and small farmers take a share of another 19 percent.
- The numbers show when the landholding in Punjab is dominated by medium and large farmers; in Haryana, small and marginal farmers dominate the farming sector.
- The farmers benefitted in Punjab stood at 116.8 percent.
- In Haryana, the beneficiary count is 114.9 percent.
- Punjab procures 90 percent of its marketed surplus.
- Haryana procures over 89 percent of its marketed surplus.
- Procured quantity per farmer in Punjab stood at 10 tonn/hect.
- In Haryana, the value is 3.6t/hect.
Odisha Tells A Different Tale
- When it comes to rice procurement, Odisha could procure only 55 percent of its production.
- The number of farm landholdings in Odisha, as per the 2015-16 Agriculture Census, had been 48.66 lakh.
- The number of farmers who sold their produce in Mandis in the State in 2019-20 stood at 11.62 lakh.
- The gap between total farmers and those who availed sale at mandis in the State is very huge.
- In Odisha, only around 24 percent of farmers sold their produces via the mandis managed by APMC.
- In Odisha, the marginal farmers account for a whopping 74 percent of farm land.
- And small farmers take a pie of around 18 percent.
- The marginal and small farmers account for a total of 92 percent landholding in the State.
- But when it comes to procurement via the Mandis, the numbers are quite eye-popping.
- In 2020-21, of every 10 benefitted from MSP, only 2 belong to marginal farmer group in Odisha and another 4.8 ( approx 5) belong to the small farmer group.
- When the marginal farmers in the State hold over 44 percent of land area in hectares, their contribution to the procurement quantity in the State in 2020-21 has been mere 23.5 percent.
- In Odisha, the procurement is only 71 percent of the marketed surplus.
- And the quantity procured per farmer stood at 4.2t/hect.
- The MSP is meant for safeguarding the interest of marginal and small farmers. But procurement via mandis in Odisha is not going the Punjab and Haryana way.
- Odisha farmers reaping loss at current MSP that was decided based on Punjab and Haryana yield rate.
- When Punjab has the highest yield rate in the country and Haryana at 5th, Odisha fares a poor third from the bottom.
- As MSP is linked with yield rate per hectare, Odisha farmers reap a huge loss due to lower yield.
The Bottom Line
While the Odisha government led by Naveen Patnaik has been asking the CACP to detach Punjab and Haryana from Odisha while calculating MSP, the incumbent government supported the protest of farmers against the new farm. laws. But the number-crunching shows how the Farm laws were meant for the farmers in states like Odisha. Now, it's all history.