The announcement made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday morning about the Centre’s decision to repeal farm reform laws during the winter session of parliament elicited a mixed reaction from the agriculture and allied sectors.
‘Politics takes precedence over everything,’ said P Chengal Reddy, Chief Advisor of the Consortium of Indian Farmers Association, expressing dissatisfaction with the decision.
‘(Agitating) Farmers in Delhi are pleased, but the rest of the country will face a lack of technology, processing problems, and technological advances. The agricultural sector would have benefited from the reforms. We are surprised that such a strong leader as Modi has chosen to step down,’ Reddy said.
Laws that are progressive
Veteran rice exporter Vijay Kumar Setia stated that the laws were progressive in nature but needed some tweaking to satisfy egos.
‘Farming communities in Punjab and Haryana will be cut off from the natural agriculture mainstream, while others will move on,’ he predicted.
Break the impasse
The Agrochemical Federation of India applauded the government’s decision to repeal the laws. The federation’s Director-General, Kalyan Goswami, stated that it would aid in breaking the current impasse.
‘We also appreciate the Prime Minister’s commitment to providing farmers with high-quality seeds, making it easy to file claims for damages, and paying farmers a fair price for their produce,’ he added.
According to Ankit Chauhan, Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of InfyU LABS, the laws are progressive and aim to give farmers more liberty and fairness in their trade. However, it cannot be denied that the implementation of these laws was substandard.
‘Farmers were not prepared for the changes imposed by these laws. The infrastructure and awareness needed for successful policy implementation were not in place when these laws were announced last year. Repealing these laws was an urgent necessity. We hope that a new, improved policy will be implemented in the near future, taking into account all necessary corrections and solutions,’ he said.
Modi’s empathy admirable
DRE Reddy, the CEO and Managing Partner of CRCL LLP, the largest domestically managed contractual food services company, said Modi’s empathy for the protesting farmers was admirable.
‘At the same time,’ he said, ‘the government must consider drastic reforms in the farm sector through inclusive participation of all stakeholders with the sole goal of ensuring the right kind of gains for farmers.’
State amendments should be repealed
Prakash Kammaradi, a former Chair Chair of Karnataka Agricultural Prices Commission who is now involved in the farmers’ movement, stated that the State’s amendments to the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act should also be revoked in light of the Centre’s decision.
The jurisdiction of APMC mandis, which had been reduced to their physical boundaries, should now be restored to its original levels, encompassing all talukas, he said.
Kurubur Shantakumar, Convenor of Karnataka Samyukta Kisan Morcha, the State’s umbrella farmer organisation, said the Central Government should compensate the families of the 670 farmers who died during the farmers’ agitation.
According to Satya Muley, Advocate, Bombay High Court, the repeal of the laws demonstrates that a democratically elected government can be brought to a halt by protests, even on progressive legislation.
‘There could have been major communication breakdowns on both sides. The opposition has done everything possible to exploit communication gaps,’ he added.