Paddy purchase cap, demand for land records attempt to benefit private players: Farm unions

Farmer leaders on Saturday alleged that government’s recent actions, like attempt to delay paddy procurement and capping of per acre yield for procurement purpose, points towards an attempt to create space for private players to procure farmers’ paddy instead of government buying it on MSP.

State general secretary Bharti Kisan Union (Dakunda), Jagmohan Singh, and president of BKU (Kadian), Harmeet Singh Kadian released a joint statement Saturday that said: “It has been more than 10 months since farmers are protesting on the borders of Delhi. Farmers are fighting for the protection of the public procurement system, regulated markets, MSP and public distribution system, which are facing a big threat under new farm laws. Now central government, through its procurement agencies, is directing the state governments to put a limit of 34 quintals per acre sale of paddy and also asking farmers to submit land records despite its earlier claims that ‘kisan ka daana daana MSP par kharida jayega (farmer’s every grain will be purchased on MSP).”

They argued that farmers in Punjab had no choice but to maximize their per acre yield for survival, adding that the procurement cap was grossly unfair more so as the government doesn’t include all the input costs in its MSP calculation.

“Putting a limit on per acre purchase will directly affect farmers and tenant farmers. There is no effective alternative mechanism for the rest of the product, which will remain unsold. The government is trying to make space for private players as the unsold product can be purchased by private mandis or traders. First, these private players may purchase this unsold produce on higher MSP, but after a point, when APMCs will become ineffective, the private traders will lower the price than the MSP and farmers will have to suffer on a large scale. After the government failed to bypass the APMCs by implementing new farm laws, it is putting a limit on purchase for the same target, but differently. There is an interlinked threat to both MSP and APMC, by putting limits on purchasing,” they added.

“Through this process, the government is also running away from its duty to public procurement and it is expected that government will keep reducing the share of its purchase to create large space for private traders because farmers do not have a stocking system and the unsold product will go to waste if the government doesn’t buy it,” the statement argued, adding that this also poses a threat to the PDS system.

About government directing farmers to submit land records for direct benefit transfer of MSP, the farmer leaders said that a large number of farmers are landless and take land on lease from fellow farmers for farming purposes.

“Given the high proportion of tenants, it is impossible that every farmer can submit his/her land records. Furthermore, the government already has the land records of the villages with its revenue officers and hence the motive of the government for again asking about the land records is questionable,” said Jagmohan.

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