Farmers at a protest against the new farm laws New Delhi-UP border, Wednesday.(Photo: Sakib Ali/HT photo)
Farmers at a protest against the new farm laws New Delhi-UP border, Wednesday.(Photo: Sakib Ali/HT photo)

How the Centre can resolve the deadlock over new farm laws

Protests by thousands of farmers against a set of farm-reform laws they say will hurt their interests simmered for the seventh straight day, with talks deadlocked.
By Zia Haq | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON DEC 03, 2020 04:02 AM IST

Protests by thousands of farmers against a set of farm-reform laws they say will hurt their interests simmered for the seventh straight day, with talks deadlocked.

While the farmers want the three laws revoked, and the passage of a new law guaranteeing minimum state-set prices for all major farm produce, the government has said the new laws will lead to better price discovery and bring investments to the farm sector.

On Thursday, the government is set to meet farmers for the fourth time. The endgame looks tricky but there are several fixes that the government can deploy to resolve the crisis without necessarily withdrawing the reforms.

Markets

In free markets proposed under the laws, traders don’t have to pay any fees. Farmers worry that the move to open free markets in competition to notified markets controlled by state governments could lead to a collapse of traditional markets.

Traditional markets serve as a big source of state revenue. In Punjab, they charge 6% fee (3% each as market fee and rural development fee) on wheat purchases. A 6% fee was also payable on non-basmati paddy while for basmati paddy, 4.25% fee was charged. In September 2020, after the Centre’s new laws came into force, Punjab was forced to reduce the market fee and rural development fee on basmati rice from 2% to 1% each.

Set up in the 1960s, these markets initially served as critical infrastructure for farmers to sell their produce and discover prices under the government’s supervision, thereby helping avoid distress sale.

Over time, these markets have grown opaque and monopolistic, with prices rigged to the advantage of middlemen, according to a 2010 probe by the India’s statutory anti-monopoly agency, the Competition Commission of India.

These markets are also interlocked meaning traders often lend money to farmers, but assure them of purchases, albeit below federally fixed minimum prices, creating a dependence that is entrenched. Since 90% of wheat and paddy in Punjab are bought and sold in these markets, the state government, farmers and middlemen are threatened alike.

“The government can come up with rules under the new laws to say that government procurement will mandatorily be done from traditional markets, while other private trade can simultaneously happen in free markets,” said RS Mani, an economist with the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University. This will show , over time, which markets serve farmers better, he said, while assuaging farmers’ fears that the new laws will kill the notified markets.

Minimum prices

Farmers have demanded a law guaranteeing minimum support prices (MSPs) for all major farm produce. The aim is to make the sale of any farm produce below its MSP threshold illegal. There are economic constraints to such a law, such as its impact on inflation. While farmers want price assurance, the government has focused on reforms to result in better price discovery.

Experts say there are several ways to assure returns, such as a price-deficiency mechanism, which the government could lay down during the negotiations. “Price deficiency (mechanism) has been tried in Madhya Pradesh. It needs to be refined, but it can be a way to compensate when markets are down,” said Rohini Mali, an independent consultant, who was formerly advisor of food systems, FAO in Rome. Under the price deficiency system, the government pays the difference between market price and MSP to farmers.

Stubble burning

In October, the government brought an ordinance to set up the Commission for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas. The new law aims to cut pollution in New Delhi, of which crop-residue burning is a major cause for a month or so.

This ordinance has angered farmers because of it provides for steep penalties for polluters, including farmers, with a jail term of 1 year and fines of up to Rs 1 crore. “This ordinance further reinforces the fears of the farmers that the Central Government is more interested in adopting coercive measures instead of finding real solutions, despite court directions to provide alternatives to farmers to manage the paddy straw,” said Kiran Kumar Vissa of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee.

Farmers have been demanding an incentive of Rs 200 per quintal of straw to make alternative disposal financially viable. The Supreme Court has already said the government may consider giving Rs100 per quintal. Given that paddy covers six million hectares in three states, Punjab, Haryana and Utter Pradesh, a federal “production subsidy” as direct cash transfer per quintal of paddy to stop stubble burning will allow the government to take farmers out of the purview of the new anti-pollution law, said Kavitha Kuruganti of Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Topics
app
Close
The vaccination target for Friday was 3,703 healthcare workers of which 2,308 were vaccinated in 35 sessions. (FILE PHOTO).(AP)
The vaccination target for Friday was 3,703 healthcare workers of which 2,308 were vaccinated in 35 sessions. (FILE PHOTO).(AP)

Uttarakhand reports 62% vaccination, more than 10,000 health workers inoculated

PUBLISHED ON JAN 23, 2021 01:43 AM IST
  • Since January 16, a total of 10,514 healthcare workers have been vaccinated in Uttarakhand in 171 sessions.
Close
The government has offered 4.38 hectares of land to saints near Ganga.(Photo@tsrawatbjp)
The government has offered 4.38 hectares of land to saints near Ganga.(Photo@tsrawatbjp)

Uttarakhand accepts saints’ request for burial land to check jal samadhi

PUBLISHED ON JAN 23, 2021 12:55 AM IST
The decision was taken by the state government during the cabinet meeting chaired by chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat at the CM house.
Close
AASU, which spearheaded the anti-CAA protests in the state in December 2019 and also last month, launched a 3-day protest against the legislation beginning Friday. (PTI PHOTO) (Image used for representation).
AASU, which spearheaded the anti-CAA protests in the state in December 2019 and also last month, launched a 3-day protest against the legislation beginning Friday. (PTI PHOTO) (Image used for representation).

Ahead of PM Modi’s Assam visit, AASU takes out torch rallies against CAA

PUBLISHED ON JAN 23, 2021 12:48 AM IST
  • The PM is scheduled to address a public rally at Jerenga Pathar in Sivasagar district on Saturday and distribute land allotment certificates to over 1,06,000 landless people.
Close
Maharashtra government appealed to the Supreme Court against the high court’s decision and filed a caveat in the apex court seeking exclusion of the 18 villages from KDMC. (HT PHOTO)
Maharashtra government appealed to the Supreme Court against the high court’s decision and filed a caveat in the apex court seeking exclusion of the 18 villages from KDMC. (HT PHOTO)

Short of attendance while pregnant, DU law student gets relief from top court

By Abraham Thomas
PUBLISHED ON JAN 23, 2021 12:30 AM IST
  • The petitioner, had joined the 3-year law course at Law Centre-II of the Faculty of Law, Delhi University in August 2016. She was a married woman who attended the evening law course and successfully cleared three semesters. In the fourth semester, she became pregnant and could not attend classes.
Close
Uttarakhand CM Trivendra Singh Rawat inaugurating the state's first child-friendly police station in Dehradun on Friday. (Paras Negi/HT PHOTO).
Uttarakhand CM Trivendra Singh Rawat inaugurating the state's first child-friendly police station in Dehradun on Friday. (Paras Negi/HT PHOTO).

Uttarakhand CM announces 1 crore fund for welfare of orphans, street kids

PUBLISHED ON JAN 23, 2021 12:01 AM IST
  • The child-friendly police station has been developed under an initiative by the state commission for protection of child rights and police to provide a friendly environment to the children on the streets to prevent them from stepping into the world of crime.
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Covaxin well-tolerated: Phase 1 peer-review

PUBLISHED ON JAN 22, 2021 11:42 PM IST
New Delhi Bharat Biotech Covaxin was well tolerated with no vaccine-related serious adverse events in a small group of volunteers, according to a peer review of the company’s phase 1 clinical trials published in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases on Friday
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Cong wants JPC to probe ‘security breach’

PUBLISHED ON JAN 22, 2021 11:41 PM IST
New Delhi: The Congress Working Committee (CWC), the party’s highest executive body, on Friday stepped up its attack on the chat transcripts between journalist Arnab Goswami and Partho Dasgupta, demanding a joint parliamentary committee probe into what it called a breach of national security
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Local Body elections: Andhra govt, state poll panel at loggerheads

PUBLISHED ON JAN 22, 2021 11:39 PM IST
Hyderabad : The Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy government of Andhra Pradesh and state election commissioner (SEC) Ramesh Kumar on Friday headed for a showdown over the conduct of elections to village councils in the state in February
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Follow my father’s ideology... he’d never, ever give up on idea of India: Mehbooba Mufti

UPDATED ON JAN 22, 2021 11:39 PM IST
Mehbooba Mufti, 61, was the last chief minister of Jammu & Kashmir before the momentous events of August 5, 2019, when the Centre scrapped the special status and converted the state into two Union territories
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Elephant dies of burn injuries; two arrested

By Divya Chandrababu
PUBLISHED ON JAN 22, 2021 11:38 PM IST
Chennai: A horrific video emerged on Friday of two men throwing a flaming cloth onto an elephant in Tamil Nadu’s Nilgiris district and the animal trumpeting and running away in pain
Close
HT Image
HT Image

PM talks to health workers to dispel fears over vaccines

By HT Correspondent, Varanasi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 22, 2021 11:36 PM IST
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday sought to set at rest fears and misconceptions over the efficacy and safety of Covid-19 vaccines, and sought to dispel the “vaccine hesitancy” that has kept the turnouts low at inoculation centres
Close
HT Image
HT Image

BSY reshuffles cabinet to contain dissent

By Sharan Poovanna
PUBLISHED ON JAN 22, 2021 11:35 PM IST
Bengaluru Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa on Friday caved into demands of dissenting ministers and made changes to his cabinet by redistributing portfolios to calm tempers, barely a day after rebellion broke out within his government
Close
HT Image
HT Image

CBI books Cambridge Analytica over Facebook data theft

By Neeraj Chauhan
PUBLISHED ON JAN 22, 2021 11:35 PM IST
New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered a case against Alexander Nix of British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica (CA) and Aleksandr Kogan of Global Science Research Limited, UK, for allegedly harvesting personal data of up to 562,000 Indians from Facebook for commercial purposes, officials said on Friday
Close
Bharatiya Janata Party national president JP Nadda is on a two-day visit to Uttar Pradesh. UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath and state unit chief Swatantra Dev Singh received him in Lucknow on Thursday. (Deepak Gupta/HT PHOTO).
Bharatiya Janata Party national president JP Nadda is on a two-day visit to Uttar Pradesh. UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath and state unit chief Swatantra Dev Singh received him in Lucknow on Thursday. (Deepak Gupta/HT PHOTO).

Be factually correct, focus on quality: Nadda to BJP's social media cell in UP

PUBLISHED ON JAN 22, 2021 11:33 PM IST
  • The BJP chief directed the volunteers to keep reminding people of the good work done by the state and central governments on social media since public memory was known to be short.
Close
Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid tributes to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose
Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid tributes to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose

Parakram Diwas: PM Modi pays tribute to Netaji on eve of his jayanti

Written by Prashasti Singh, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 23, 2021 12:20 AM IST
On January 19, the Centre had announced that every yearthe legendary freedom fighter's birth anniversary will be celebrated as 'Parakram Diwas'.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP