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Experts discuss impact of agri reform bills on farmers

Updated : September 18, 2020 03:49 PM IST

The Lok Sabha on Thursday passed two contentious farm bills by voice vote which will enable farmers to sell outside the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committees (APMCs) and engage directly with agri-business firms.

However, BJP ally Shiromani Akali Dal opposed both the farmer bills, while NDA minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal resigned as a mark of protest against the agri bills.

Reacting to the passed bills, Siraj Chaudhry, managing director and chief executive officer of NCML said he does not think that there is any intent to do away with minimum support price (MSP). According to Chaudhry, MSP is used by government to procure, not for private trade.

According to Chaudhry, the government procures only few agri-commodities from some states and the government has not said that it will buy below MSP. He believes that agriculture has been a state subject and they need to participate. If states don’t participate, measures may not get implemented properly.

However, Himanshu, economics professor at JNU believes that farmers fear that they may lose out on MSP support. According to Himanshu, prices in the market are far lower than the MSP prices and the farmers are fearing loss of income due to low farm gate prices.

Himanshu believes that MSP is meant to be a crisis measure and governments worldwide do subsidise agriculture. However, he says that corporate sector never subsidises and they won't buy at high prices and sell at low prices.
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