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Why are the farmers in Punjab protesting?

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When the government is not bound to purchase, then crops will be sold to private players and meet the same fate as maize, Moong, Basmati, cotton sunflower crops. This will push farmers under more debt and they will be forced to sell their small land to clear the debts and gradually their lands will be purchased by their borrowers and they will further sell it to the big business houses, who always have an eye on farmlands.

The union government introduced three ordinances in June- the farmers’ produce trade and commerce (promotion and facilitation) ordinance, 2020, the farmers (empowerment and protection) agreement on price assurance and farm services ordinance, 2020 and the essential commodities (amendment) ordinance, 2020 but the farmers want a roll back of these ordinances. here’s why….

These ordinances are designed to bring in the private players in the agriculture sector and to provide additional private market setups for the farmers in addition to the mandi system. Privatization will also result in doing away with the msp (minimum support price) guarantee that the farmers get now the farmer unions claim that the ordinances will not only phase out the msp and the traditional grain market system but will also crush the small and marginal farmers.

The farmers fear that once the private grain markets are established, the traditional grain markets will become history. the farmers will have to depend on corporations and private firms.

This privatization also means that once the state mandis and govt are not bound to buy the crops, the private players will eventually be able to regulate the prices on their own terms…

The biggest fear which is haunting the farmers is losing the msp. They say farming is no more a profitable avocation and if msp is withdrawn they will not be able to survive. Some farmers say the private players will exploit the farmers by indulging in hoarding and other malpractices.

The farm unions have expressed the apprehension that by allowing the farming agreements, the big players and companies will capture the farming which will harm the small and marginal farmers- small and marginal farmers own less than five acres and less than 2.5 acres of land, respectively. Because of small landholdings in the state like punjab they are growing wheat and paddy, which have assured market due to government purchase.

So here’s the major issue

These are not just assumptions, the farmers have faced similar things in the past too. Imagine an already under debt poor farmer dealing with private firms who can exploit anyone on their own terms. If they do so, do you think that farmer will stand a chance in any legal battle against the private players?

After selling everything else to the private sector, the government who proudly shouts jai jawaan jai kisaan, is now selling the farmers to the private sector the old farmers are protesting not because of any agenda, but simply to save their lives and in result are getting beaten up by the police if we can’t stand up for the ones who make food for us, we are dead as a society. 

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