11 April, 2021

Mandis Get A Union Rejig

Why farmers are agitating against the Centre’s ordinance route to reorganising India’s system of agricultural marketing

Murmurs Within
A protest by the RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Kisan Sangh
Photograph by PTI
Mandis Get A Union Rejig

A farmers’ agitation in Punjab and Haryana over agriculture reforms by the central government amidst the Covid lockdown seems to be gathering pace as peasants from more states like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra have already joined forces. At the core of the agitation are three ordinances—Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020, Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020, and the Essential ­Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020—which seek to open up the market for farmers, even as many states are yet fully bring into effect the model Agricultural Produce Market ­Committee (APMC) Act more than a decade after it was passed.

Agitating farmers in some parts of the country allege that small farmers are being cheated in the absence of APMC mandi safeguards. Denying the charge, Union agriculture secretary Sanjay Agarwal says “the system to ­ensure timely payment to farmers is very much there”. Defending the...

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