A survey on the recently passed three agriculture laws in the country showed that more than fifty per cent of farmers did not favour them. However, more than one-third of farmers opposing the laws were not acquainted with the details of these laws.
According to a survey by rural media platform Gaon Connection on 'The Indian Farmer's Perception of the New Agri Laws', it was found that every second respondent farmer opposed the three laws, while 35 per cent farmers supported these acts. However, it was also found that of the 52 per cent opposing the agri laws, over 36 per cent were not familiar with the details of these laws. Similarly, of the 35 per cent supporting the agri laws, almost 18 per cent were not informed about them.
This face-to-face survey by Gaon Connection Insights, the data and insights arm of the platform, was conducted between October 3 and October 9 across 53 districts in 16 states of the country.
As per the findings of the survey, the biggest fear of these new agri laws among the respondent farmers (57 per cent) was that they would now be forced to sell their crop produce at a lower price in the open market, while 33 per cent farmers fear the government will end the system of minimum support price (MSP), a price set by the government to purchase directly from the farmer.
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Besides, 59 per cent respondent farmers want the MSP system to be made a mandatory law in India.
A bigger proportion of marginal and small farmers, who own less than five acres of land, supported these agri laws in comparison to medium and large farmers, the survey report showed.
"Interestingly, in spite of slightly more than half (52 per cent) the respondent farmers opposing the three new agri laws (of which 36 per cent were not informed about these laws), almost 44 per cent respondent farmers said the Modi government was 'pro-farmer', whereas about 28 per cent said it was 'anti-farmer'. Further, to another survey question, a majority of farmers (35 per cent) said the Modi government supported the farmers, whereas about 20 per cent said it supported the private corporate," noted the Gaon Connection survey report.
During the last Monsoon Session of the Parliament, three new agri bills were passed, followed by the President Ram Nath Kovind signing them on September 27, which are now the law of the land. The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, seeks to give freedom to farmers to sell their produce outside of the notified Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) market yards. The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, gives farmers the right to enter into a contract with agribusiness firms, processors, wholesalers, exporters, or large retailers for the sale of future farming produce at a pre-agreed price. The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020, is meant to remove commodities like cereals, pulses, oilseeds, onion, and potato from the list of essential commodities and do away with the imposition of stock holding limits.
A section of farmers and farmers' organisations have been protesting against the new farm laws. The survey found that overall 67 per cent farmer respondents were aware of the recent three agricultural laws. Meanwhile, two-third of farmers were aware about the recent farmers' protest in the country. Awareness about such protests was more among the farmers in north-west region (91 per cent), which includes the states of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. Least awareness was reported in the east region (West Bengal, Odisha, Chhattisgarh) where less than half (46 per cent) were aware about recent farmers' protest.
Of those who support these agri laws, almost half (47 per cent) favour them because they believe it will give them freedom to sell their crop anywhere in the country. Among those who oppose these laws, the highest percentage of respondent farmers (57 per cent) said they did not support the three laws because 'farmers will be forced to sell their produce at lower price in open market'.
By Chitranjan Kumar