The RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) on Thursday said the outfit will stage a nationwide agitation on September 8 to press for ”remunerative price” to farmers for their produce to cover their production cost and called for “improvement” in the Centre’s new agri laws that are facing opposition from a section of cultivators.
The farmers’ body said the Central government should either bring in a new legislation or make changes in the agri-marketing laws enacted last year to add a provision for payment of minimum support price (MSP) for major farm produce.
Top BKS functionary Dinesh Kulkarni, addressing a press conference in Nagpur, said farmers should get ”remunerative price” for their produce to cover their cost of production, which they are not getting in the existing system.
“Remunerative price is cost of production plus profit — that is what we are demanding. Remunerative price is the right of farmers, which should be facilitated by the government,” said Kulkarni, the BKS’s national organising general secretary.
“The MSP announced by the government today is not a remunerative price. However, even if it is not doing that it should at least give the MSP it is announcing and make a law for the same,” he said.
Kulkarni said the three new farm laws do not have any clause about ensuring MSP or remunerative price for agricultural commodities.
“The government should ensure this remunerative price in the present farm laws or make a separate legislation for the same. The government should make guidelines in respect of contract farming wherein crops are not purchased below MSP. This should be at least implemented for the 23 crops that are currently under the MSP regime,” he said.
Asked about his views on the Centre’s new agri-marketing laws, against which farmers are protesting for the last 10 months, Kulkarni told PTI that they need “some improvement”.
“For example, there should be an agriculture court (to tackle disputes). Similarly, (private) traders coming into the farm sector should be registered and should give bank security. Thirdly, there is a huge flaw in respect to (changes) in the Essential Commodities Act as far as consumers are concerned,” he said.
The government, in order to promote business, has given huge exemption to big companies, allowing them to stock some commodities as much as they want and this needs to be corrected, the BKS leader said.
The 2020 amendment to the Essential Commodities Act, which is part of the new agri laws, removes restrictions on stocking of certain essential commodities.
To a query on the BKS’ view on the ongoing farmer protests, Kulkarni said the nature of the agitation changed after January 26, when the stir took a violent turn in New Delhi. After that, dialogue with the Centre stopped, he said.
The government and farmers’ unions have held 11 rounds of talks so far, the last being on January 22, to break the deadlock on the new laws and end the protest.
“It (talks) would have paved the way for discussion with the system for implementing remunerative price in the right manner. However, that dialogue stopped,” Kulkarni said.
The three farm laws enacted in September 2020 have been projected by the Modi government as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove the middlemen and allow farmers to sell anywhere in the country.
However, the protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of MSP and do away with mandis, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates. The Centre has repeatedly asserted that these mechanisms will remain in place. (PTI)