Farmers' protest against the Centre's three agriculture laws on Monday entered the fifth day. The farmers are demanding from the government to withdraw the three laws which according to them is not in the interest of the farming community. However, noted agriculture sector expert and economist, Vijay Sardana, said that the agitation is not about the laws, but it is about the traders who will be at loss.
Speaking to India TV, Sardana said that this is not a farmer stir. "Traders are protesting in the name of farmers. Farmers are only gaining from the three laws. Only a segment of traders are facing the heat and that they are misleading in the name of farmers."
He asked how these farmers are arriving at Delhi borders in SUVs. "Who owns these luxury vehicles? This should be investigated. This will unmask who are behind these protests. Punjab farmers even borrow tractors for their agriculture-related work," Sardana said.
To a question about the merit of the three laws, Sardana said that the laws passed by the Centre are absolutely in the interest of farmers.
"Government should simply sit with the farmers and explain every clause. Farmers should tell the government which line is causing trouble, where is the problem. The government should ask what law they want,” he said.
“The traders are not protesting for the MSP, they are not worried about the MSP. They are protesting for their commission. This will benefit farmers and traders will face monetary loss," he said.
Explaining further, Sardana said that the Food Corporation of India (FCI) procures wheat and paddy worth Rs 80,000 crore from Punjab. Traders get 8.5 per cent of the amount which is roughly around Rs 6,500 crore.
"This Rs 6,500 crore is taxpayers' many which they are paying in the form of service tax," he said. "With the new laws in place, the FCI will say that it will procure directly from farmers outside the mandis. The traders will be at loss," he said.
“If these traders would have been concerned about the MSP, the debate should have centered around Punjab’s new law. They should discuss whether the Centre should approve it,” he said.
The Punjab government has passed a new law that states that selling or purchasing wheat and paddy below Minimum Support Price will attract a three-year jail.
PHOTOS: The many hues of farmers' stir
Thousands of farmers from Punjab began their Delhi Chalo march on Thursday. They reached Delhi borders on Friday afternoon and are camping there since then. Farmers are demanding from the government to take back the three farm laws that were passed by the Parliament earlier this year. Meanwhile, a meeting of the protesting farmers' unions with the Centre has already been scheduled for December 3.
According to the opposition parties, the Modi government's three bills -- The Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020; the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020; and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 are aimed at handing over the farming sector to corporates and that farmers will not get benefit of the MSP.
But the government maintains that the bills give freedom to farmers to sell their produce outside the notified APMC market yards (mandis). This is aimed at facilitating remunerative prices through competitive alternative trading channels. Farmers will not be charged any cess or levy for sale of their produce under the act. Besides, farmers will get the right to enter into a contract with agribusiness firms, processors, wholesalers, exporters, or large retailers for the sale of future farming produce at a pre-agreed price. It seeks to transfer the risk of market unpredictability from farmers to sponsors.