BJP leaders are telling false statements on the three Agri Bills

S. Jeevananda Reddy

 We see stories on the three Agri Bills in Telugu states as said by BJP leaders in both print and electronic media. Some time back Kisan Reddy [Hon’ble Minister] on NTv discussion, Ram Madhav [BJP National Leader] in Sakshi, etc. and both print & Electronic media of BJP in Telugu states.

India had 36 million agricultural landholdings in 1971. It increased to over 100 million in 2016. 82% of India’s farmers are still marginal and small. India, China & USA has around the same arable land [In 2017 India has 179.8 Mha of cropland, USA’s 167.8Mha and China’s 165.2 Mha]. India and China have around the same population & acreage under irrigation, achieving the around the same level of production.  

·       In countries like USA where 2 to 5% of people only engaged in agriculture but in India it is not so where around 65% of rural population depending on agriculture [either directly or indirectly] but contract farming effect this severely and thus increase the migration from rural to urban, which is bad for nation/environment;

·       Crop specific contracts affect severely the basic food needs [food security & nutritious] and thus food cost goes up steeply that affect common man – this we are seeing in terms of bank interests that have gone down drastically – increase the health risks;

·       Government subsidies & procurement affect severely;

·       All these help import of genetically modified food, a health hazardous [hither to banned to entry to India];

1.       Are the bills help in exports?
 Kishan Reddy voiced that the bills will contribute to exports that help doubling of the farmers’ income. This is false statement.

The reality is “India has emerged as a major agricultural exporter, with exports climbing from just over $5 billion in 2003 to a record of more than $39 billion in 2013. India became the world’s seventh-largest exporter of agricultural products in 2013. India has become a very important player on the global market, especially for rice ($7.1 billion), cotton ($3.8 billion), sugar, and beef (buffalo). In addition to these products, India has also become a sizeable exporter of soybean meal, guar gum, corn, and wheat, as well as a diverse range of other products ($17.1 billion) – total $39.3 billion. “

On the contrarily with the Agri Bills India will become a dumping ground for Genetically Modified (GM) food  and as a prelude present BJP/NDA government cleared cultivation of GM food crops in India. Like Arab & Camel proverb, we know what happens with multinational companies – nobody has power to control them – this is what is happening now in Indian agriculture.

 2.       Who proposed the bills 

Ram Madhav voices that these bills form part of the proposals voiced by Bharatiya Kisan Union & Freedom of Farmers Charter demands form the foundation for the bills. It is false propaganda only.

The fact is that National Agricultural Policy (NAP) of BJP Government of India announced in 2000 envisaged that “Private sector participation in agriculture shall be promoted through contract farming and land leasing arrangement (proposed corporate farming by TDP a partner of BJP under vision 2020) to allow accelerated technology transfer, capital flow and assured markets for crop production – as part of it the rise in MSP was drastically curtailed over Congress Government’s year-wise step of raise in MSP & stopped import part of fertilizer and thus reduced drastically fertilizer subsidy component.  This was formalised by NITI AAYOG with draft model contract farming law titled Agricultural Produce and Livestock Contract Farming (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2018.  PM announced “With this farmers income will double”. 

As part of this BJP government [prior to 2004] allowed the entry of Bt-Cotton seed of a powerful multinational company – seed entered illegally and cultivated illegally. GM seed oil produced illegally and entered in to Indian market without any label saying GM food. Congress/UPA government brought down the cost of GM seed drastically and stopped cultivation of Bt-brinjal [a food crop]. Now, BJP government allowed producing GM food crops – health hazardous. That clearly shows BJP is serving the multinational interest.

 3.    Has AP government introduced contract farming?
 BJP/NDA leaders have been voicing that AP has announced contract farming in 2007 (AP2007) – In February 2001, Dr. YSR as CLP leader sent DS, Congress President [Father of present BJP MP from Nizamabad] & Chinna Reddy, convenor Agri sector in CLP” asking me to prepare “black paper” to counter White Paper released by TDP government on agriculture – vision 2020 –; and prepared & released in press gallery in Assembly premises on 15th February 2001.  On 16th February 2001 all print media highlighted this.  Newstoday put the heading “Cong advocates cooperative farming” -- --- farmers were constrained to depend on private money lenders for the rest of financial assistance and at higher interest rate, thus entangled in debt trap, some of the farmers could find remedy by committing suicide --- the steep hike in the power tariff and erratic power supply also contributed to the farmers misfortunes --- In this backdrop, the solution lay not in corporate agriculture, but cooperative farming need the government to encourage the latter approach and ensure remunerative prices for agriculture produce. --- Dr. YSR after becoming CM in 2004 asked a consultant to prepare the working paper on cooperative farming to introduce in AP. The consultant prepared the document with the heading cooperative farming but inside the text dealing on corporate/contract agriculture. Farmers opposed this. I wrote to Dr. YSR on this [Sakhsi published my letter] and Dr. YSR got the report “stopped” and said he will get it revised appropriately. Just at that time he was killed. Dr. YSR put more emphasis on irrigation projects, known as jalayagnam.

 4.       What farmers wanted?
·       There are several wishes but unfortunately these are mosque by vote bank linked subsidies by states and centre – competing one over the other – but least bothered on the problems faced by farmers in executing agriculture. Contract/corporate farming is bad system for 85% farmers’ in India. NDA/BJP government is not looking in this direction ;

·       Around 40% of produce is going as waste. Hon’ble Prime Minister of India making weekly sermons but did not do much on this -- except helping corporates,  similar to diverting lakhs of crores in favour of corporate houses;

·       One of the primary wish is to help in minimizing the weather based destruction. Creation of storage facilities – though UPA government initiated in this direction in 2011 budget but private lobby outplayed this. Other is food processing using local ly produced items that creates employment also – this minimised the risk of MSP;

·       However, mechanization similar to USA will severely affect employment;

·       Most talked is Minimum Support Price [MSP] – quoted here frequently Dr. M. S. Swaminathan --. Though government fixes the MSP but the farmer is not getting it. For example in Telugu states take the paddy – rice is the major one in PDS but no body buy this and thus it goes to black market and thus to get MSP to new paddy is a big problem. In this connection on my request UPA government advised states to pay in Cheques. But they failed do so.  The other important issue is quality – weather plays the major role here.    NDA/BJP government failed to look in to this vital issue.

Finally, the three agri bills are bad for Indian farmers with more than 85% have less than 5 acres. Doubling the income will be a dream that never fulfilled under the vagaries of monsoon. It is only possible to by linking agriculture with animal husbandry under cooperative farming at village/mandal level under organic farming concept.

Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy, Former Expert - FAO/UN

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Dec 27, 2020

Dr. Jeevananda Reddy

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