In the context of ongoing farmers’ protests in Delhi against agriculture reforms, there is a perception that the Central government has not done extensive outreach and consultations with farmers and their representatives. However, government figures have a different story.
According to government officials, since these reforms were announced, PM Modi has spoken about them more than 25 times. This amounts to almost 1 address every week on this issue. He has explained multiple provisions, cleared various myths and spoke on how these reforms will help the farmers. He also cited the examples of various progressive farmers who have got the benefits of these provisions. He has spoken these to a wide range of audiences too, starting with multiple addresses to the farmers and rural areas to global investors and Mann Ki Baat. He has also spoken about these reforms from the ramparts of the Red Fort on 15th August and also in the Bihar election rallies.
In the run-up to announcing the reforms, the Ministry was consulting with various experts and former officials. It was also in touch with Agriculture departments of various states during the entire formulation process. Feedback was also obtained from few progressive farmers and knowledgeable mandi officials. There were multiple meetings with FPOs through video conferences. The Ministry also consulted a prominent Farmers union and even did a change in the ordinance after their feedback.
Officials further added that right after these reforms were announced, the Minister for Agriculture Narendra Singh Tomar had multiple meetings with state agriculture ministers, various farmer groups, political groups, aadhatiya groups and industry groups and participated in workshops organised by Krishi Vigyan Kendras.
The Central government also reached out to farmers at the grassroots and conducted webinars and training sessions apart from making farmers aware about the reforms though SMS.
In June, 708 trainings and webinars were organised covering 21,231 farmers. In July, total 873 trainings and webinars were conducted reaching out to 26,196 farmers. In the months of August and September, total 852 and 840 training and webinar sessions conducted respectively covering 25,569 and 25,205 farmers. Total 36,102 training and webinar sessions covering 27,07,977 farmers were conducted in the month of October 2020. November 2020 witnessed 97,679 such sessions covering 64,36,198 farmers.
Thus, the total number of training and webinar sessions conducted were 1,37,054 reaching out to 92,42,376 farmers between June to November 2020.
Further, farmers were called for training at a common place in the Gram Panchayat. Moreover, 2.23 crore SMS messages have been sent to farmers during the month of October.