How can I promote agriculture in India?
FREE ACCESS TO THE INDIAN AGRICULTURAL SECTOR
But the legislative packages that have now been passed are the exact opposite of what farmers and their organizations have been fighting for for years. They are primarily demanding secure prices and, in return, more market regulation. What has now been passed is above all suitable for creating complete deregulation and giving large corporations free access to the Indian agricultural sector.
The previous market regulations were mainly implemented on the so-called "Madis". Madis are local markets for regional products, where the farmers receive state-guaranteed minimum prices for products. One problem for the Madis is that few middlemen and too much corruption are often price-determining and only the larger companies can even afford the licenses to sell on these registered markets. Despite all the problems, the regions in which more Madis are established are also the regions in which the farmers are generally better off than where there are no or few Madis. The guaranteed minimum prices of the Madis also have a signal effect for the pricing of the smallest and marginalized farmers in the area, even if they cannot sell on the Madi. This is important because more than 85% of Indian farmers cultivate less than two hectares and fall into this category.
The new bills endanger the existence of the Madis instead of improving or even expanding them. They stipulate that the farmers have to negotiate private contracts individually with the large corporations without protective intervention or representation. Instead of countering hunger in India, they give private buyers the opportunity to hoard unlimited food and, when the market is favorable for them, to sell it at maximum prices. The good prices will certainly not be passed on to the farmers. Even if the subsidized purchase of stocks, which was previously reserved for the Indian government, has been criticized for encouraging farmers to increasingly only cultivate the products eligible for subsidy, people wanted reforms that counteract this problem and not the free market give access to the already endangered food security of all Indians.
All of this in a situation where people across the country are already doing badly with the Covid-19 outbreak has now exploded in a rage that can be really dangerous for the Modi government. Since 60% of the people in India are active in agriculture, this is also a percentage power that only an ignorant and completely detached government class forgets to reckon with.
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