NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday allayed fears that private firms might grab farmers’ land under a new contract farming law enacted by the Centre, as he listened to success stories about benefits of the new Acts while interacting with peasants from seven states.
After releasing Rs 18,000 crore funds to 9 crore farmers under the PMKISAN scheme, Modi held interaction with farmers from Arunachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Odisha and Haryana.
In their interaction with the PM, the seven farmers shared their success stories and also highlighted the benefits of recently enacted agri-laws.
They also shared their good experience of working with private players under contract farming agreements.
“Sitting in Arunachal Pradesh, you are sure that your land is safe. But some people are spreading a myth that those who enter into a contract (agreement) with a company for sale of crops will also lose their land. So many lies are being spread. I am happy that you have shared your experience,” Modi said while interacting with farmer Gagan Parin.
He also said some politicians, for their own agenda, are spreading lies that the laws will impact the farmers.
Parin told the prime minister that a newly set up farmer producer organisation (FPO) with 446 organic growers has begun marketing its produce to Bengaluru and Delhi. Recently, the FPO tied with a private firm for the supply of organic ginger.
When the PM asked if private companies have entered into an agreement for land or the crop, Parin said, “We have entered into an agreement for finished products and not for the land.”
Parin also said he has received Rs 6,000 as part of the PM-KISAN scheme and used that money for purchase of fertiliser and meeting labour cost.
Further sharing the benefits of new agri-laws, another farmer Manoj Patekar from Dhar district in Madhya Pradesh informed the prime minister that the new legislations have given options for farmers to sell their produce.
“Due to new laws, we got new opportunities. Earlier, there was only one mandi, now we can sell to private players. This year, I sold 85 quintals of kharif soybean crop to ITC e-choupal at Rs 4,800 per quintal,” he said.
At e-choupal, Patekar said that he got the rates for the produce a day before and the quality of his produce was checked in front him and payment was made immediately.
“I am happy that through new farm laws, we have got other options to sell our produce,” he said, adding that many of his fellow farmers are also taking advantage of direct marketing.
When the PM asked whether he had faith that farmers will benefit from the new system, Patekar replied in affirmative.
Patekar, who said he owns six acres land, told the prime minister that he has received Rs 10,000 benefit from the PM-KISAN scheme. He also requested the PM to address the menace of stray cattle.
To his request, the PM said, “Those who are sitting in the name of farmers at protests and have similar lines of thoughts in the name of the environment asking to send those to jail who kill animals. They are running one protest out there, one protest here in the name of politics. We need to find a solution for this. In many parts of the country, there are such issues.” Sharing his experience with the prime minister, farmer Ram Gulab from Maharajganj district of Uttar Pradesh said a newly set up FPO with 300 farmers has entered into an agreement for sale of sweet potato with an Ahmedabad-based company.
“Earlier, farmers used to sell sweet potatoes at Rs 10-15 per kg, but now we have entered an agreement for Rs 25 per kg. They will take the produce from the farm field. We need not bear transportation costs and not face middlemen problems,” he said.
When Modi asked if he feared losing land (after entering into an agreement), Gulab said: “No sir. Our land will not go.” He also said that the new laws will be beneficial for farmers.
Modi said: “Lies are being spread. When people like you talk, there will be confidence in others that no one will lose land, only crops are sold….”
The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 is one of the three laws against which farmers, especially from Punjab, are protesting at Delhi borders for nearly a month now.
Clearing the apprehension about the contract farming, Modi said earlier there was a penalty on farmers for violation of a contract agreement. The new law ensures that there is no penalty on farmers.
“We are getting reports of how farmers are taking benefit of the laws. The government is standing with farmers at every step.
The government has set up strong legal support to help farmers,” he said.
When someone enters into an agreement with a farmer, that person will provide farm inputs and services to farmers to get good produce. In case the crop is damaged, still those who have entered into an agreement have to give the rate at which it was entered into to a farmer, Modi said.
“He (private party) cannot end an agreement at his will. On the other side, if a farmer wants to end an agreement he can do it. Isn’t this in favour of farmers?” the prime minister asked.
Further, Modi said, in case the crop is good and market rates are higher than the agreed price, then a farmer will have to be given the agreed rate and also a bonus above that.
“Earlier, all risk was on farmers and return used to be for others. Now, all risk will be borne by a company that enters (into an agreement) and returns will be for farmers,” he added.
Sharing benefits of other farm schemes, farmer M Subramani from Krishnagiri district of Tamil Nadu talked about how he was able to address the water problem in four acres of land using drip irrigation.
“Earlier, there was water to farm only one acre. Now, I get water for the remaining three acres using drip irrigation. Earlier, I was earning Rs 40,000, now I am getting Rs 1.40 lakh,” he said.
Another farmer from Odisha (Naupada district) Naveen Thakur said he has received Rs 10,000 under the PM-KISAN scheme and also got the benefit of crop loan at lower interest of 4 per cent rate through Kisan Credit Card.
On benefits of crop diversification, Haryana-based farmer Hari Singh Bishnoi from Fatehabad district said he has diversified to horticulture crops in 10 acres of land, in which he has planted lemon in three acres of land and guava in seven acres of land.
“We sell outside mandis. We are getting more money,” he added.
Taking advantage of Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY), Maharashtra-based farmer Ganesh Rajan Bhosle from Latur district said he paid a premium of Rs 2,580 and took crop insurance in 2019. He received a claim of Rs 54,314 for damage to his soybean crop due to excess rains last year.
He also informed the prime minister that his fellow farmers are also associated with this scheme. “This is a good scheme and every farmer is benefitting.”