Farmers’ Protests in India


11:27 AM

1 min read
Farmers’ Protests in India Blog Image

What’s in Today’s Article?

  • Why in News?
  • What is the Ongoing Farmers’ Protest About?
  • What are the Demands of the Ongoing Farmers Protest?
  • How has the Government Responded Thus Far?
  • Issue of Minimum Support Price (MSP) in India

Why in News?

  • With more than 250 farmers’ unions from Punjab gearing up to march to Delhi, the Delhi Police has imposed Section 144 across the national capital for a month.
  • One of the key demands for the ‘Dilli Chalo’ march, is a legal guarantee of minimum support price (MSP).

What is the Ongoing Farmers’ Protest About?

  • Farmers’ unions under the banner of the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha (KMM) and the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (non-political) have called the protest that is being coordinated from Punjab.
  • The two forums gave a call of “Delhi Chalo” to remind the Prime Minister of the promises to farmers two years ago.
  • In both its demands and leadership, the protest of 2024 is very different from the yearlong agitation of 2020-21.
    • During the 2020-21 agitation farmers succeeded in their main goal of forcing the central government to roll back its agricultural reforms agenda.

What are the Demands of the Ongoing Farmers Protest?

  • The headline demand in the farmers’ 12-point agenda is for a law to guarantee MSP for all crops, and the determination of crop prices in accordance with the Dr M S Swaminathan Commission’s report.
  • The other demands are:
    • Full debt waiver for farmers and labourers;
    • Implementation of the Land Acquisition Act of 2013, with provisions for written consent from farmers before acquisition, and compensation at 4 times the collector rate;
    • Punishment for the perpetrators of the October 2021 Lakhimpur Kheri killings;
    • India should withdraw from the World Trade Organization (WTO) and freeze all free trade agreements;
    • Pensions for farmers and farm labourers;
    • Compensation for farmers who died during the Delhi protest, including a job for one family member;
    • The Electricity Amendment Bill 2020 should be scrapped;
    • 200 (instead of 100) days’ employment under MGNREGA per year, daily wage of Rs 700, and scheme should be linked with farming;
    • National commission for spices such as chilli and turmeric; etc.

How has the Government Responded Thus Far?

  • KMM and SKM (non-political) emailed their demands to the Ministries of Agriculture and Commerce and Industry.
  • In two meetings, the Union Agriculture Minister, Commerce and Industry Minister, and Minister of State for Home met with farmers' delegation in Chandigarh.
  • According to the Union Agriculture Minister, there were some issues on which consensus has been reached.
    • However, some issues need a permanent resolution and there should be a committee to address them.
  • Even as the farmers and the ministers were talking, the Haryana government started sealing its borders with Punjab.
  • Rajasthan sealed its borders with Punjab and Haryana, and imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC in Sri Ganganagar and Hanumangarh districts.

Issue of Minimum Support Price (MSP) in India

  • Meaning of MSP: MSP is a form of market intervention (a policy decision not enforceable by law) by the Government of India to insure agricultural producers against any sharp fall in farm prices during bumper production years.
  • Announced by: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (Chaired by the PM of India) on the basis of the recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) at the beginning of the sowing season for certain crops.
  • Objectives:
    • MSPs are a guarantee price for farmer’s produce from the Government to prevent the farmers from distress sales and to procure food grains for public distribution.
    • For example, in case of a market glut due to bumper production, government agencies will buy the entire quantity supplied by farmers at the announced minimum price.
  • Background:
    • The MSP regime came into existence as a policy decision in 1967 on the recommendations of the Food Grain Price Committee (constituted in 1964 under LK Jha).
    • The government set up the Agricultural Prices Commission (renamed as the CACP in 1985) for fixing MSP for crops.
  • Crops covered:
    • Government announces MSPs for 22 mandated crops and fair and remunerative price (FRP) for sugarcane (total 23).
    • The mandated crops are 14 crops of the kharif season, 6 rabi crops and two other commercial crops.
  • Associated issues:
    • Majority of farmers remain uncovered: According to a NSSO survey, less than 6% of Indian farmers (over 9 crore agricultural households) have benefited directly from selling their wheat or rice under the MSP regime.
    • Procurement is concentrated in a few states: For example, Punjab, Haryana, western UP, Chhattisgarh and Telangana for paddy; Telangana and Maharashtra for cotton, etc.
    • Poor implementation of the MS Swaminathan Commission recommendations: It recommended that MSP should be at least 50% more than the weighted average cost of production.
  • Govt’s silence on the legal guarantee to MSP: The Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare notified a committee (headed by former agriculture secretary Sanjay Agrawal) to make the MSP more effective and transparent.
    • However, the committee's terms of reference do not include any legal guarantee to MSP, which was one of the key demands of the farmers protest of 2020-2021.

Q1) What is the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (LARR) Act, 2013?

The LARR Act regulates land acquisition and lays down the procedure and rules for granting compensation, rehabilitation and resettlement to the affected persons in India. The Act replaced the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, enacted during British rule.

Q2) What is the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP)?

CACP was established in 1965 as the Agricultural Prices Commission (present name given in 1985) to recommend MSPs to motivate cultivators and farmers to adopt the latest technology in order to optimise the use of resources and increase productivity.

Source: Farmers back on road to Delhi: How the current protest differs from the 2020-21 edition | IE