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'Mix of Ignorance and Misinformation': Tomar Hits Back at Pawar, Says New Laws in Interest of Farmers

Agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar gestures as he addresses a press conference in New Delhi. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

Agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar gestures as he addresses a press conference in New Delhi. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

Tomar further said Pawar, a former Union agriculture minister, had himself tried to bring the same reforms earlier.

Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Sunday reiterated that the Centre’s new farm laws will not affect the Minimum Support Price (MSP) procurement and the ‘mandi’ system adversely, but will make them more competitive and beneficial for the farmers.

Day after NCP president Sharad Pawar said the new agriculture laws will adversely impact the MSP and weaken the ‘mandi’ system, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar hit back saying the senior leader’s statements reflected a  mix of “ignorance and misinformation”. Tomar further said Pawar, a former Union agriculture minister, had himself tried to bring the same reforms earlier.

“Since he speaks with some experience and expertise on the issue, it was dismaying to see his tweets employ a mix of ignorance and misinformation on the agriculture reforms. Let me take this opportunity to present some facts,” the minister said in a tweet.

Refuting Pawar’s claims that the new laws will curtail the powers of the ‘mandis’, Tomar said, “New Laws facilitate promotion of additional choice channel for farmers with choice to sell their produce to anyone, anywhere with hassle free movement in & outside the state to realize competitive & better net price for their produce. This doesn’t affect the current MSP system.”

The Union minister maintained that the ‘mandis’ will not be affected under the new ecosystem. “Instead, they will be more competitive and cost effective in terms of services and infrastructure; and both the systems will synergistically co-exist for the common interest of farmers,” he said.

As farmers’ agitation on Delhi borders against the contentious laws continues unabated, Pawar said in a series of tweets on Saturday that the MSP mechanism should be strengthened further.

The new farm laws curtail the powers of Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs or `Mandis’ in common parlance) regarding collection of levy and fees from private traders, dispute resolution, agri-trade licensing and regulation of e-trading,he said. “I am also concerned about the amended Essential Commodities Act,” the former Union agriculture minister said.

Under the amended act, the government will intervene for price control only if rates of horticultural produce go up 100 percent and that of non-perishable items by 50 percent, he said. Stock-piling limits have been removed on food grains, pulses, onions, potatoes and oil seeds which can cause apprehension that corporates will purchase commodities at lower rates and sell them at higher prices to consumers, Pawar said.

“During my tenure, draft APMC rules 2007 were framed for setting up special markets, thereby providing alternative platforms for farmers to market their commodities and utmost care was also taken to strengthen the existing mandisystem,” he said.

Thousands of farmers have been protesting since late November at Delhi’s borders with Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, demanding a rollback of the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.

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