CITU denounces ‘Farming Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020’

Calls it hasty and beneficial to a handful of big landlords and corporate agri-business
The Centre of Indian Trade Unions has denounced the Union Cabinet’s recent decision to promulgate the ‘Farming Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020’. According to the CITU statement issued by its General Secretary Tapan Sen, this move is “hasty” and the Bharatiya Janata Party government is taking the “Ordinance route” as it benefits “a handful of big-landlords and corporate agri-business”. The CITU has alleged that this is being done at the cost of the “small and marginal farmers, and the agri-workers in particular”. They add that such a move will also “abrogate the rights of state governments to regulate and intervene in the agrarian economy.”  

The CITU stated that the Cabinet decision to promulgate the ‘Farming Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020’ will mean that “produce would be purchased without auctions and regulatory supervision by the concerned authority.” These sales of agri-produce will be done where price negotiations will be “unequal” stated CITU. There will be “large landlord-corporate traders clique on the one side and poor peasants on the other” said CITU, adding that this will be “inherently biased against the interests of the majority of the farmers” and can lead to their exploitation at the hands of the “landlord-corporate-business clique.”

Similarly, states the CITU,  “The ‘Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020’ is going to permanently empower the big-landlord-agri-business lobby.” The CITU has rubbished the government’s claims of empowering farmers by removing restrictions.

According to the trade unions, “Amendments to the Essential Commodities Act removing commodities like cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onion and potatoes from the list of essential commodities, and removing all restrictions and limits on storage and building stock will promote hoarding.” They say this move will also encourage “black-marketing, to facilitate and empower the ultra-rich class in the agricultural economy. It is a positive threat to the country’s food security.” 

The CITU has alleged that this is a “process of complete abdication of governance responsibility to ensure basic rights of the farmers for a humane living, on the one hand and towards land concentration and consolidation with the handful of landlord-traders clique and promotion of contract farming as well lease of farm land by corporate companies.” CITU has called on the working class to “oppose and protest such nefarious anti-people, anti-farmer machinations of the Modi Govt and join hands with the peasants and agri-workers’ organization to unitedly fight, defy and resist.”                                                                                                                     

The Hindu had a detailed report on the amendment to the 65-year-old Essential Commodities Act, which has removed cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onion and potatoes from the list of essential commodities. “The amendment will be made effective immediately via an ordinance, according to the Agriculture Ministry,” said the news report. According to an official statement, the Cabinet also approved ordinances to remove restrictions on farmers selling their produce outside notified market yards, as well as to facilitate contract farming and allow farmers to engage in direct marketing.

“We are not touching markets. We are simply saying that the full country outside the physically demarcated premises of mandis run by APMC committees should be open to a farmer to sell his produce to anyone with a PAN card,” said Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Agarwal. “Why is the farmer, who is the producer, restricted from selling his own produce? Those who buy from the farmer are unlimited in their further marketing or export, but the farmer is being curbed. By allowing the farmer more choices, it will raise his income and also reduce wastage and improve quality,” he added.

However, The Hindu has added that “not all States have been on board with these reforms, especially as State governments will not be allowed to levy fees on these sales.” It stated that farmers groups “expressed concern that corporates will benefit more than small farmers from such direct marketing measures, and wish to see the specific provisions of the ordinance before welcoming it.”



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