Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday described the proposed agriculture reform bills as “historic" and said that they would usher in much-needed reforms in India’s agricultural sector. Taking a dig at the Opposition, the prime minister said that some people were worried that control would slip out of their hands and trying to mislead the farmers on the issue of Minimum Support Price (MSP).
“After these historical changes in the agricultural sector, some people are worried as they fear that power may slip out of their hands. So, now they are trying to mislead farmers on MSP," he said.
The prime minister made these statements during the foundation stone laying ceremony of nine highway projects in Bihar, which he was attending through video conference.
Addressing concerns over the working of the Krishi Mandis, he said that his government has made continued efforts to improve the functioning of the mandis. “Over the last 5-6 years, concerted efforts have been made in the country to better the offices of agricultural mandis, to introduce computerization. Whoever is saying that after the new reforms, agricultural mandis will be in danger, they are lying to the farmers," PM Modi added.
In another veiled reference to the Congress party, PM Modi said that those opposing the bills had been “sitting for years" under the recommendations of the Swaminathan Committee on MSP.
“The new change in the farming sector is the need of the 21st century and our government has brought this reform for the farmers," he added. PM Modi also assured farmers that the MSP system won’t be touched and government purchase of their produce would continue. “I assure every farmer of the country that the MSP system will continue to operate. The way work was done there before, will continue," he said.
“The laws around produce and yield earlier had tied the hands of farmers. People were taking advantage of farmers, that’s why it was important to bring these reforms," he said.
The two contentious farm bills — Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 — were passed amid chaos in the Rajya Sabha on Sunday, three days after they were cleared in the Lok Sabha.
While the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 seeks to provide freedom to farmers to sell their produce anywhere in the country, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020, provides for a national framework on farming agreements that protects and empowers farmers to engage with agri-business firms, processors, wholesalers, exporters or large retailers for farm services.