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‘Farmers should suspend agitation amid second Covid wave,’ says Haryana minister J P Dalal

On the DBT scheme in Haryana, the minister says farmers have apprehensions that the direct supply of crops to the silos is aimed to disband mandis.

Written by Sukhbir Siwach | Chandigarh |
April 29, 2021 10:28:49 pm
farmers protest, DBT schemeThis agitation was started by Congress by creating fear that the mandis will be disbanded, the MSP system will go and the farmers will lose their land with big capitalists snatching the same, Dalal said. (Express File Photo by Amit Mehra)

A vocal supporter of the Centre’s farm laws and the DBT scheme, Haryana Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister J P Dalal speaks on wheat procurement, farmers’ protest and more.

What is the scenario of wheat procurement in Haryana?

Normally, procurement season goes on for two months — April and May. But this year, we have procured almost the entire wheat brought to the mandis by farmers in just 20 days. The arrival of wheat in mandis has crossed the figure of 80 lakh MT. In the next one week, the entire procurement process is likely to be completed. Early procurement will lead to early sowing of next crops including cotton while sowing seems to be getting late in Punjab. Early sowing of cotton is beneficial for the health of the crop. This time there was no need for the government agencies to procure mustard in Haryana with the private players buying the same at the rate of Rs 6,500 per quintal which is much higher than of its MSP of Rs 4,650 per quintal. With higher prices, the mustard growers in Haryana got around Rs 1,500- Rs 2,000 crore additional income this season.

How was the experience of DBT scheme in Haryana which was opposed by arhtiyas?

This is a historical step for the economic freedom of farmers. The farmers will understand its results in coming years. We have already made payment of around 50 per cent to total procured wheat from the farmers. The farmers have always been paying interest to the arhtiyas (in lieu of advance taken from them). But this time, if the farmer gets payment after 72 hours, he will get the principal amount from the government along with the interest at the rate of 9 per cent on it.

The farmers have apprehensions that the direct supply of crops to the silos is aimed to disband mandis.

See, in Haryana we have maximum facilities of transportation and storage but despite that our lakhs of tonnes wheat kept in open ground under tirpals get spoiled. We had invited tenders from private players including farmers urging them to construct godowns. During this process, if somebody constructs silos of big capacity, what is wrong in it? In the country, we have three times more stocks (of foodgrains) than of the requirement. This is also a matter of happiness that the export of agricultural produce has increased by 18 per cent this year. We need logistics and capacity of storage for further exports.

What are the preparations of the government for contract farming in light of new laws?

The concept of contract farming is not mandatory for the farmers. Even today, contract system is prevalent in the cases of almost 50 per cent farmers where one takes land from another at contract for cultivation purposes. The annual contract ranges from Rs 30,000 to Rs 60,000 per acre. Their issues, if arise, are resolved by the local social panchayats. The Act on contract farming has been introduced to prevent exploitation of farmers by big companies. This concept is not compulsory in nature but optional. All clauses of this Act are pro-farmers.

What do you think about crop diversification?

First of all, we want mechanisation of agricultural farms, proper management of water, recharging of groundwater and crop diversification by promoting production of fruits. We also want to encourage those crops which require less water for irrigation purposes to break the paddy-wheat circle. There is a serious crisis of irrigation water in Haryana with depleting water levels, so certain schemes have been launched to ensure better utilisation of water too.

How do you see the five-month-old farmer agitation?

The issue of this agitation is between the central government and farmers. This agitation was started by Congress by creating fear that the mandis will be disbanded, the MSP system will go and the farmers will lose their land with big capitalists snatching the same. Nothing of this sort took place. Moreover, when the Supreme Court has stayed the laws, all the leaders and farmer brothers should suspend the agitation keeping in view the current situation of Corona pandemic.

What according to you will be the political fallout of the farmer agitation?

The emotions of everybody are attached with the word “kisan”. This is also a fact that the income of farmers did not increase during the past 60-70 years after the Independence. There is a need to consider that there were shortcomings in the previous policies. So, there was a need to do something different. I would like to express my gratitude to Modi ji that he has done what the leaders of Congress could not do during all these years.

The leaders of BJP-JJP have faced a lot of opposition especially in villages because of the farmer agitation. How do you see this situation?

They are political men from Congress and few Communists who by misusing the name of kisan indulge in “Jindabad-Murdabad” while showing black flags. But this is not going to continue for long. This practice is not good. There are workers of all political parties. If such a system develops, then every (politician) may face a similar situation.

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