NEW DELHI: As confrontation continues between the government and protest groups peasants more than three new farm laws, minister of agriculture Narendra Singh Tomar on Tuesday said the Acts were welcome various states across the country, but the Center wants to continue its talks with “authentic farming unions” to find a solution with an open mind.
He also said the Minimum Support Price (MSP) at which the government is committed to getting the product from farmers is an administrative decision and it will “continue as it is”.
Tomar’s comments followed a meeting with members of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Kisan) from Uttar Pradesh who sent a memorandum to the minister with suggestions on the Agricultural Actions and the MSP.
Union Bharatiya Kisan (Kisan) has also decided to stop now its protest which it held at district levels in Uttar Pradesh. They did not belong to nearly 40 peasant groups who protested at various borders of the national capital and attended the recent negotiations with the Center without success.
According to the ministry statement, Tomar thanked the leaders of BKU (Kisan) for their support of the Agricultural Actions and said that these laws have been welcomed in various states across the country.
“He (Tomar) further added that the Government wants to continue a dialogue with genuine agricultural unions and wants to find a solution with an open mind,” the statement said.
The leaders of BKU (Kisan) suggested that farmers should have an option to go to civil courts in case of a dispute. They also suggested that the head of Panchayat should be given the same importance as the head of the mandi to protect the rights of the peasants in small towns and villages.
In the case of the Essential Goods Act, they suggested that it should prevent hoarding and black marketing.
The union leaders also suggested that electricity bills for irrigation should be reduced and electricity should be available for longer hours in Uttar Pradesh.
They also proposed that crop standards be decided at the shopping centers so that farmers do not face a problem of selling the produce.
After the meeting, president of BKU (Kisan) Pawan Thakur told reporters, “The minister explained the laws in detail and we realized the laws are really good. We had some doubts, he explained all of them … The minister said he would consider our requirements.”
He also said the union is stopping its protest currently in Uttar Pradesh and Utarakhand.
“If our demands are not met, we will protest again,” he added.
“The minister has listened to our key amendments carefully. He said the government is already discussing these issues. We have suggested six things to make the laws more effective. We are happy with talks with the minister. We believe the government is working positively,” said Acharya Ram Gopala Dixit, BKU (Kisan) Patron since 2009.
According to a memorandum previously issued by the union members, they pressed for separate legislation to ensure guaranteed MSP for crops, saying that the manager buys crops lower from farmers and sells it to government at MSP.
“We want a law on MSP so that crops outside mandates cannot be sold under that rate. Farmers have suffered losses this kharif season because they were forced to sell under the MSP. If our demand is accepted, we are willing to uphold the laws.” I don’t know how fast crops will sell. Ideally, our crops should be sold more than MSP, but it is sold less than that, ”Thakur said before his meeting with Tomar.
Tomar and some other ministers included Rajnath Singh has met with various farmers ’unions in the past few days, which has increased support for the new laws.
However several other farmers’ unions, especially from Punjab and Haryana, continue to protest for more than two weeks against the three farm laws, saying the new legislation will lead to the dismantling of the MSP and mandi systems and leave them under the power of companies.
Some ministers also said that some antisocial elements and Maoists are abusing the platform of peasant protests to advance their own agenda.
Speaking in Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in particular that “a conspiracy is on the way to confuse farmers who have gathered near Delhi at the moment.”
The Center advertises MSP for more than 20 Kharif and Rabi crops. It primarily acquires wheat and Irish to fulfill an obligation under the National Food Security Act and create a buffer stock.
The government, according to the food law, supplies 5 kg of wheat or rice per person per month for 2-3 rupees per kg to more than 80 million people through grocery stores. Recently, the Center is also purchasing vegetables and oilseeds according to different plans such as the Price Stabilization Fund.
In its proposal to farmers on Wednesday last week, the Center said it would give a written assurance that the MSP system would stay and also fix their other key concerns. The unions, however, are demanding a complete overhaul of the central laws and have threatened to intensify their unrest.