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Gujarat govt may follow suit, amend APMC Act, says Agriculture Minister Raghavji Patel

“The state government had made amendments (to the APMC Act) based on the changes recommended by the Centre. So, if the Centre is planning to repeal all three laws, then, I think the state government will follow suit. This is my personal opinion,” said Raghavji Patel.

Written by Avinash Nair | Ahmedabad |
Updated: November 20, 2021 4:34:16 pm
Raghavji Patel (Photo Source: Twitter/@RaghavjiPatel)

On a day when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the Centre’s decision to repeal the three controversial farm laws, Gujarat Minister for Agriculture and Animal Husbandry Raghavji Patel said the state government would also have to make appropriate changes to its APMC Act that was amended in September 2020.

“The state government had made amendments (to the APMC Act) based on the changes recommended by the Centre. So, if the Centre is planning to repeal all three laws, then, I think the state government will follow suit. This is my personal opinion,” said Patel when contacted by The Indian Express.

The Gujarat Assembly had passed a Bill amending the Gujarat Agricultural Produce Markets (APMC) Act, 1963, in September 2020. Modelled on the Central government’s Act, the Bill permitted private warehouses, silos and cold storages to function as market yards, thus giving farmers multiple options to sell their produce besides APMC yards controlled by cooperative bodies of farmers. The model Act was forwarded to the state governments, including Gujarat, and the Centre recommended states and union territories to adopt necessary changes to suit local variations.

APMCs currently feel there will be no immediate impact of the Centre’s decision in Gujarat. “There will be no immediate impact as the decision belongs to the Centre. As of now, we have our own law which we have to follow,” said Girish Patel, secretary of Sanand APMC, which has lost 60 percent revenues after the new amendments in the APMC Act kicked in last year.

The Indian Express had, in September, reported that at least 12 APMCS had closed down in Gujarat after the new farm laws took effect. The state government cited limited income and functioning for the closure of these APMCs.

APMCs are controlled by their respective boards of directors. A majority of these directors are elected by farmers’ representatives who are members of village primary cooperative societies in respective jurisdictions of the APMCs. The APMCs function under the Gujarat State Agricultural Marketing Board, a statutory body of the state government.

Gujarat AAP leader and former head of Gujarat Khedut Ekta Samiti, Sagar Rabari, feels an agitation from the farmers will be required to force the state government to bring about any changes in the local laws. “If the farmers in Gujarat want a change, they will have to agitate locally and convince the government. In Gujarat, except for some objections from Congress, there has been no objections to the new APMC Act,” he said.

Rabari, who is still in favour of the Centre’s three farms laws, termed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision “political”. “The decision is completely political. The epicentre of the farmer’s agitation, which includes Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, will soon be going to assembly polls. There is a lot of pressure regarding the same. Moreover, the farmers’ agitation, which has stretched for a year, has shown the Modi government in poor light both nationally and internationally,” said Rabari.

The AAP leader said he still supported the farm laws. “Though the laws were well-intended, the process that the government undertook was flawed. Initially, the government should have engaged all the stakeholders and, like the UPA government, they should have brought out a draft inviting suggestions in the public domain. But during the pandemic, they brought out an ordinance and because (of) the pro-corporate image of the government the farmers feared the laws,” he added.

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