Amid protests over the recently enacted farm Laws in different parts of the country, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on 6 October termed them as long-waiting reforms in the agriculture sector.
While interacting with farmer leaders and agricultural experts in Chennai on farmer issues and recently enacted agriculture Laws, Sitharaman said that the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for crops will be continued.
“The reforms brought out by the Modi government were waiting for a long time. Now, agricultural produce in India can be sold anywhere at a price suitable for them with profit. Now, farmers can decide where and whom they should sell and where. A farmer can sell his products anywhere and no confusion in it. There is a free hand to them,” Sitharaman said.
“If a farmer wants to sell his produce through the Agricultural Marketing Committees (APMCs), tax comes 8 to 8.5 percent. Now because of this new law, this 8.5% tax will be no more. In the new laws, the agreement of traders with farmers will be only for products but not on their land. Farmers will get a good rate and get value addition for his products. For the last 25 years, these reforms were under consideration and recommendations,” she added.
Sitharaman said that MSP will be continued which is recommended by various committees like the Swaminathan committee.
“There are 24 items that are covered under MSP. But, it was only given only to paddy and wheat. Those who are raising voices against the farm laws did not bother about it earlier. Since MSP is not a fixed rate and keeps fluctuating. Now we made the laws which will provide farmers to get good rate of their produce,”she added.
“Congress ruling Punjab state in their 2019 election manifesto stated that APMCs will be ruled out. I am surprised by their protest. Farmers are clear on these laws. The political parties want to cheat farmers for political gain. It is a strategy of Congress,” she added.
Sitharaman said that there is a change in the Essential commodities act, in which damages on products will be less and the rate will be fixed.
“If state and central government both join hands, farmers will be benefitted or else middlemen will get the benefit. We have a plan to meet people in their city and explain farm laws. In this coronavirus time, farmers who could not sell their farm products physically, have sold their products through the digital platform of eNam,” she said.
“Prime Minister will not fear reform in economic development. To give opportunity, our PM goes and seeks for an opportunity to bring in reforms. In spite of fear in COVID-19, the farmers sowed their crops and because of their hard work and the rural economy was less affected due to pandemic. Farmers who waited for reforms for long years, were given rights amidst lockdown,” she said.
The three laws – Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance 2020; Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020; and Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act – were passed recently by Parliament.