India farmers continue their protests against what they call “black laws”. The government of India is standing still, and all discussions between farmers and the central government have been inconclusive.
The Associates Times’ reporter went to understand exactly why these farmers are on roads from over thirteen days.
We interviewed Joginder Pal Singh, a farmer from Punjab state of India. Mr Singh gave a thorough explanation of why these farmers are sleeping on roads to protest against the newly passed three farming laws.
Joginder Pal Singh stated that the new laws do not guarantee MSP (Minimum Support Price) at which government purchases the produce of the farmers. Besides this, these laws allow big corporates to directly come and purchase their crops and also promotes contract farming that would enslave the farmers in their fields.
Singh added that the new laws do not even allow farmers to approach courts instead of the dispute if there is any will be settled by Sub Divisional Magistrate if the problem is not resolved they can approach Joint Secretary of Central Government.
“Now, imagine 2-acre farmer putting a fight with million-dollar revenue holding Corporations with legal departments in front of SDM, or by travelling to Delhi to approach Joint Secretary,” added Singh.
Singh stated that these three laws are only promoting the big private sector organizations and have no benefit for the farmers.
Furthermore, he added that in the law that define contract farming states there would be a contract drawn by the buyer if a farmer cannot meet the agreement, then SDM can impose fines up to Rs. 500,000, which is around 7000 USD. He noted that most of the farmers in India own lands as less as 2 acres who are not capable of paying these amounts, and eventually they would be exploited these million dollar corporations.
“Chips maker had a contract with potato farmers in Punjab, and later they rejected potatoes on the grounds that potatoes are not of the same shape or size that they require. Remember potatoes grow in soil and are not manufactured in the cast,” added Joginder Pal Singh.
As a result of these laws, the Mandi (open market) will be abolished slowly. From Punjab and Harayana alone 14% of tax is received from these open markets. However, these laws pay no attention to these hefty amounts of taxes, stated Joginder Pal Singh.
Mr Singh also mentioned that the new laws removed the Essential Commodities Act that limited the storage of produce at certain levels. However, with the removal of this, the corporates would exploit the market by reducing the supply to create inflation and then move ahead by selling their storage at higher prices.
Why protests are limited to Punjab and Haryana
Joginder Pal stated that Punjab and Harayana rely on agriculture mandi system, and MSP is still present in these two states. He added that states like Bihar had removed APMC in 2006, which only left private players who continue to exploit the small farmers in those states.
“Punjab and Haryana have developed a Mandi system over the years where any produce brought into Mandis cannot be purchased below MSP while Crops as Rice, are sold in states like Bihar at a price below the MSP.”
He mentioned that farmers from neighbouring states come to sale their produce at MSP in Punjab or Haryana as these states have a better Mandi system which offers Minimum Support Price.