By Jagadish Pradhan in Bhubaneswar, September 24, 2020: The Narendra Modi Government’s farm bills are nothing but part of the liberalization, privatization and globalization (LPG) process initiated by the P.V. Narasimha Rao led government in 1991, notwithstanding a hue and cry being made about the new bills.

India has become part of the WTO since 1995 and all its policies related to Trade in Agriculture and other sectors are governed by the policies, term and conditions of the WTO.

After liberalization, our Farm Sector was virtually forced to compete at the global level and since 1996-97, we have been witnessing its adverse consequences like the farmers suicide etc. Farmers in the developed nations are all big farmers and they had been heavily subsidized by their governments. They have highly developed agro-infrastructure. Their farm sector has been highly mechanised and the farmers are well equipped with modern technologies.

On the contrary, in India more than 80% of the farmers are small farmers and for decades agriculture sector is rather negatively subsidised. Most of the farmers are still in subsistence level of farming. Farm mechanization is still a distant dream for many.

Coincidentally, all these are also related to the low productivity of agriculture. India is far behind the developed nations in terms of development of irrigation potential or agro-infrastructure. To make our farmers globally competitive, the agriculture sector needs massive investment along with extension and marketing support which the government alone cannot do. Which is why the present policies primarily aim at attracting private investments in Agriculture.

The apprehension that it will lead to total corporate control of our Agriculture and Agri business does not hold sound logic. With a huge number of small land holdings in our country it will not be possible for any Corporate to get into the production process by its own.

For decades, the Sugar Mills in India are involved in contract farming with mostly the small farmers but we have never heard of the land of any farmer being taken over by any sugar mill. In their agreement with the farmers government always remain a party to guarantee the implementation of the agreement with prudence. With the provisions of the new bills, they will mostly get involved in the processing, marketing and more particularly in the export oriented activities.

Some people apprehend that the corporates will form their cartels and manipulate the market to exploit both the primary producers and the consumers. But in this age of highly developed information technologies, it will not be that easy for any corporate to work in a non-transparent manner.

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