Opinion and Editorial

KT edit: India liberalises agriculture

Filed on September 21, 2020

The two bills attempt to dismantle a regime that restricts the choices of farmers

Successive governments in India have been calling for reforms to be made to the country's agriculture sector. However, when the upper House of Parliament passed two important bills on Sunday, various political parties created a furore, aggressively opposing the very measures they have been gunning for over the last two decades and more. The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020, aim to liberalise the agricultural market in India and give farmers more choice and autonomy in who to sell their produce to as well as when and where.
The two bills attempt to dismantle a regime that restricts their choices while keeping the safety net of minimum support price intact for farmers who are possibly not in a position to sell their produce at a desired price. Farmers will no longer be obligated to sell at designated markets (mandis) in their states. The restrictions on the stocking up of produce have also been removed, affording more freedom to farmers in bypassing the intermediaries.
Reforms such as these are not just expected to benefit the producers, but end consumers also in India. In some cases, the price spread of an agricultural produce from farm to the table is as high as 65 to 70 per cent, and that is mostly because of the various intermediaries in the process. State governments such as Haryana and Punjab might suffer losses in terms of revenues, but overall it is a win-win for both the farmers and the consumers. The Narendra Modi government deserves credit for this and the naysayers must rise above petty politics for the greater good.

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