ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Conflating Deregulation with Modernisation

Farm Laws

The possibilities for extension of the minimum support prices to ensure a decentralised procurement system in a diverse range of crops are discussed. How the architecture of this system in partnership with the private sector can be developed and how this could be made market-facing without compromising the primary interests of the farmers is also looked at.

The nationwide protest by farmers brings to the fore issues of distress and problems in agriculture. While attempts by the state to address the problems through the three farm laws are being met with resistance, and much discussion has happened on their merits and demerits, it is important to step back and understand the crisis in agriculture and also look at some significant initiatives that could be taken to modernise the value chain, and examine where markets and private sector could come in, without necessarily compromising farmer interests. The state has been asking farmers to provide a clause-by-clause objection to the laws. But if we look at the legislations closely, it is evident that it is impossible to provide a clause-by-clause objection on an issue that has fundamental problems at the conceptual level. The farmers are correct in asking for the repeal of the three acts, as a repair is not going to address the fundamental issue at all.

The first of the three acts—the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020 is about the freedom given to farmers to sell their produce anywhere, and colloquially called the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) bypass act (Narayanan 2020). This act makes two significant points. The first point is in demarcating the jurisdiction of the APMC to regulate trade and impose levies; thereby removing a barrier for trade outside the APMC market yard and extending it to the whole country. The second is in providing a rather loose definition of a trader—being any person or entity with a permanent account number (PAN) card issued by the income tax department. The actual trade could be in any mode, including on electronic exchanges. The rest of the clauses were detailing of the conceptual framing of the APMC bypass programme.

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Updated On : 13th Mar, 2021

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