The Economic Survey has staunchly defended the three agriculture laws against which dozens of Indian farmer organisations are on a warpath for months.
The Survey terms the laws - Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act - as "a remedy not a malady".
According to the Survey, the reforms in agriculture that are being brought about through these laws have been sought by various expert committees for the last 20 years.
"Farmers in India have suffered from various restrictions in marketing their produce. There were restrictions for farmers in selling agri-produce outside the notified APMC market yards. The farmers were also restricted to sell the produce only to registered licensees of the state governments. Further, barriers existed in free flow of agriculture produce between various States owing to the prevalence of various APMC legislations enacted by the state governments", the Survey notes.
It estimates that the barriers have resulted in large post-harvest losses to the tune of 4-6 per cent in cereals and pulses, 7-12 per cent in vegetables, and 6-18 per cent in fruits. Total post-harvest losses were estimated at Rs 44,000 crore at 2009 wholesale prices, it says.
According to the Survey, The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020 seeks to create an ecosystem where the farmers and traders enjoy the freedom of choice relating to the sale and purchase of farmers' produce.
The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 will empower farmers in their engagement with processors, wholesalers, aggregators, large retailers, and exporters and will provide a level playing field. The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020 removes commodities like cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onions, and potatoes from the list of essential commodities to provide the freedom to produce, hold, move, distribute and supply these items thereby leading to harnessing of economies of scale and attract private sector/foreign direct investment into the agriculture sector, the survey adds.
"The three agricultural reform legislations are designed and intended primarily for the benefit of small and marginal farmers which constitute around 85 per cent of the total number of farmers and are the biggest sufferer of the regressive APMC regulated market regime. The newly introduced farm laws herald a new era of market freedom which can go a long way in the improvement of farmer welfare in India," it observes.
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