Farmers to have autonomy to sell their produce

Government, undoubtedly, has been taking series of measures by which not only could the farmers get maximum remuneration of their output but also to ensure that their overall economic condition and income earning improved. Just by periodically increasing the procurement prices of different crops, much of the impact on their incomes was not felt especially in respect of marginal farmers and those with small holdings. Since pricing of agricultural products is not that simple, though agreeably better pricing was felt as an effective tool to greatly influence the agricultural economy, at the same time arbitrary high pricing was going to trigger increased retail pricing which was bound to be severely criticised by one and all. It is to be admitted, being a stark fact, that we, by convention if not by nature, tend to pay less for agricultural produce while simultaneously keep clamouring for bettering the lot of peasants. On the other hand, farmers are encountering restrictions in selling their produce outside the notified ‘Mandis’ known as Agriculture Produce Marketing Mandis.
However, should the farming community be not given the requisite freedom to sell their produce with intent to get better remunerative prices? Should they not be statutorily given an autonomy to choose their markets and form cooperatives to collect and sell the produce direct without any layers of demanders of their own pounds of flesh? This issue has been, to a larger extent, tried to be addressed by creating scope and space for “One Nation, One Agriculture Market”. Should not the farmers choose to sell their produce outside the ‘help’ and domain of their Agriculture Produce Marketing Committees (APMCs) which are over 6900 in number at present and there be no levies or taxes imposed by State Governments and UT Governments on the produce sold by farmers direct and without the aegis of the APMCs? To that end, Union Cabinet has taken a right decision by approving an ordinance to allow barrier free trade of such agricultural produce outside the notified APMC Mandis. The proposed ordinance, to be known as Farming Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance 2020, therefore, precludes State Governments from imposing any taxes on sale and purchase of farm produce undertaken outside specific Mandis which would result in imparting some measure of autonomy and freedom to farmers in the critical matter of doing the ultimate thing of selling the produce.
This is really an encouraging step taken towards according importance to the toil and dedication of the farmers towards raising the crop with the hope to get reasonably much more than the input cost which besides seeds, fertilizers, sprays, pesticides, and labour etc, included bank credit too. However, it is expected that with introduction of the ordinance, farmers would get comparative better prices by selling outside the Mandis which, however, would continue to operate and function but the new law would create additional opportunities for farmers in matters of selling. It is, however, not sure that all farmers would initially avail of the opportunities but gradually the element of competition would make them feel free to sell outside the APMCs also.
COVID 19 and subsequent lockdown measures created problems and restrictions for many farmers in selling their produce in Mandis. In the absence of a suitable law, farmers could not sell their produce right from their homes to avoid social distancing norms in Mandis which now would stand removed so that the farmers were in a position to get remunerative prices of their produce hassles free. Ultimate aim of “One India, One Agriculture Market” was surely going to be realised and to the benefit of the farmers.