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Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Punjab: ‘There is no wisdom in implementing a failed system by replacing an existing faulty system’

Five farmers from Punjab tell The Indian Express what they think of the farm Bills.

Written by Kamaldeep Singh Brar | Chandigrah | Updated: September 26, 2020 5:26:24 am
Farm bill, punjab farmers protest, Chandigarh news, Punjab news, indian express newsNarinder Singh

Narinder Singh, 42
Rampura, Bathinda district

“I am not able to understand why the government was in a hurry to pass these Bills — which are against farmers — during the pandemic. Is there any design behind this timing? Nobody had expected that government would be in such a hurry. These Bills were being planned for more than a decade. It shows the government is not ready for a healthy discussion on these Bills. Opposition couldn’t protest properly in Parliament due to seating arrangement and other rights of MPs, who are compromised due to Covid-19 precautions.”

Puran Singh, 82
Sohian Khurd, Amritsar district

“It is laughable when government claims that farmers can now sell crop in any part of India. Before suggesting the same, do they know that when farmers carry their crop from one place to another, they spend on transportation? Input cost will multiply with distance of market from the field. In the current system, farmers do not have to go beyond 10-20 km to sell their produce. Farmer has no experience of marketing ever and it also requires infrastructure to be able to market your crop in far-flung places. Obviously the farmer will not benefit from it and only big MNCs can profit from the system.”

Kulwant Singh, 62
Vallah, Amritsar district

“I do not know who makes such policies. Farmers of Punjab are dependent on wheat and paddy cycle. It would be a mistake to think that the new Bills would bring farmers out of this cycle. Government never made serious effort to implement the idea of diversification. Do you really think that private players will make farmers adopt diversification? Punjabi farmers are reformists and they revolutionised the food market of India with the Green Revolution. It is the need of the hour to support farmers so they could adopt diversification. It can be done by providing MSP on diversification crops. But government is running away from its responsibility. Farmers have done enough for this country. When will the country do something for farmers?”

Sarvan Singh, 45
Chitaah, Amritsar district

“I am surprised by the people who make farm policies as it is apparent that they know nothing about farming and its marketing. It is true that commission agents exploited farmers by charging more interest. But at the same time, public sector banks also do not provide required loans to farmers without taking commission under the table. Farmers often protest against commission agents. But farmers will not be able to fight back with big MNCs in the same manner as we can fight and win against commission agents. Commission agents live among us and they also understand that they cannot survive if a farmer is in loss. Private players only know how to to gain maximum profit by exhausting natural resources.”

Pargat Singh, 60
Bhagatpura, Barnala district

“Farmers in the rest of India were hoping that they would also start getting MSP on crops like farmers of Punjab and Haryana get on wheat and paddy. But what government has done has not only dashed the hopes of Punjab and Haryana farmers, but also of farmers in the rest of India. Even countries like US give subsidies to its farmers so that they can survive. The same system of open market in the US couldn’t make their farmers independent. The same system didn’t help farmers in Bihar. Then how can the same system work in Punjab and Haryana? There is no wisdom in implementing a failed system by replacing an existing faulty system.”

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