Economic Survey 2021: New Farm Laws A Remedy, Not A Malady
The Economic Survey 2020-21 termed the new farm laws as a "remedy", building a case for its acceptance among the farm community that has strongly opposed it.
“The newly introduced farm laws herald a new era of market freedom which can go a long way in the improvement of farmer welfare in India,” the Economic Survey said in the chapter on agriculture and food management titled ‘recent agricultural reforms: a remedy, not a malady.’
The laws are designed and intended “primarily” for small and marginal farmers who constitute 85% of all farmers, according to the survey. It pointed out how farmers have suffered from various restrictions in marketing their produce as there were several restrictions in selling agri-produce outside the APMC market yards.
Agricultural produce market committee regulations have resulted in a number of inefficiencies and consequent loss to the farmers. Presence of multiple intermediaries between farmers and final consumers has led to low realisation by farmers.Economic Survey 2021
The new farm laws will empower farmers in their engagement with processors, wholesalers, aggregators, large retailers and provide a level-playing field, the Economic Survey said. They will transfer risk of market unpredictability from farmer to the sponsor and enable access to modern technology.
It will enable setting up of 10,000 farmer producer organisations across the country which will bring together small farmers “and ensure remunerative pricing for farm produce”.
Farmers have been camping on the outskirts of the national capital demanding a repeal of the three laws—Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, and Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020 and Farm Services and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.
The government had earlier proposed to the protesting farm unions to defer the implementation of the new laws by one-and-a-half years.
The new laws were passed by Parliament on Sept. 20 and received the President’s assent on Sept. 27. On Friday, during his address to Lok Sabha, President Ram Nath Kovind said the three laws have been put on hold by the Supreme Court and the government will respect the decision of the court.
The Economic Survey noted that there are a larger number of taxes and cesses levied by AMPCs that cut into farmers’ price realisation and poor infrastructure at the mandis compounds the problems. It highlighted how the delay at selling produce at APMCs leads to large post-harvest losses to the tune of 4-6% in cereals and pulses, 7-12% in vegetables and 6-18% in fruits.
“Farmers have been provided adequate protection as sale, lease or mortgage of farmers’ land is totally prohibited and farmers’ land is also protected against any recovery,” the Economic Survey said.