Last Sunday, the government passed three key farm bills with a vision to democratize India's agricultural ecosystem. The idea is to make the system efficient and put power back into the hands of the farmer, especially the small and marginal farmers who make up the majority of India's agricultural workforce. Since the passage of the bills, we have seen widespread protests across India calling the policies anti-farmer.
Those opposed, say that the new laws will hurt vulnerable farmers as they will no longer get the protection of the minimum support price or MSP as it is valid only in mandis and not in private deals or contracts. To be clear, the laws are not shutting down the regulated mandi nor do they imply that MSP will cease to exist.
To put it simply, the law presents to the farmer an alternative platform to sell - to a food processing company, to a private marketplace, to a produce collection centre, or even a cold storage.
While the fear is private companies can or will exploit the farmer for better margins, it is also true that the APMCs don't exactly have a great track record of their treatment of the marginal farmer either. In fact, agricultural economists say, information asymmetry is one of the biggest challenges to creating an equal ecosystem for the farmer to be able to make an informed decision when selling their produce.
Over the last few years, India has seen the emergence of agri tech platforms that are working with farmers to create a level playing field by providing the farmer with the option to sell outside the mandi. These marketplaces provide the farmer with an assured income while bringing efficiency into the supply chain and reducing wastage.
On the show today, we want to focus on the role of the private sector in modernising India's agri marketplace and what needs to be done to ensure the farmer's cause stays at the forefront of this attempt to reform India's agricultural sector.
In this episode of Young Turks, Shereen Bhan is in conversation with some of the private agri marketplaces who are working with farmers across India - Amit Mundawala, co-founder of AgriBazaar, Puneet Sethi, co-founder of Farmpal and Varun Khurana, co-founder & CEO of Crofarm.