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Industrialists say farmers must be heard, deadlock resolved soon

Industrialists from business houses in Punjab feel that farmers' grievances should be addressed since farmers contribute majorly to the state’s economy.

Written by Raakhi Jagga | Ludhiana | Updated: December 10, 2020 6:22:59 pm
Haryana numbers swell at protestsProtesting farmers at the Punjab-Haryana border, in Shambhu, Patiala. (Express photo by Harmeet Sodhi)

While Punjab farmers have been voicing their resentment against entry of corporates into agriculture ever since the beginning of their protests, the business houses in Punjab have lent their support to the protest as they feel that farmers contribute majorly to the state’s economy. Here is what some prominent industry captains had to say about the protests:

“I don’t want to comment on the farm laws as agriculture is not my subject, but I feel that the Government should redress their grievances to their satisfaction. Already, the country’s economy has suffered a lot due to the lockdown. Farmers are the backbone of our economy. I feel bad when I see visuals of them sitting out in cold in the tents. This issue should be resolved on top priority. At the same time, industry is also feeling the heat as earlier due to rail roko we had suffered losses as our export-import was affected and now due to blockade at Delhi borders, road transportation is affected as longer routes are being chosen for delivery of bicycles within the country. There is a fear of Covid as well as they are sitting in large groups and after that will be back, they may come back as carriers. So, the government needs to be serious enough to resolve this issue on top priority.”

Onkar Singh Pahwa, CMD, Avon Cycles

“We always stand by what is good for the state. We wish prosperity for everyone. Our state did so well in rural economy. Hope we keep on doing good.”

Rajinder Gupta, Chairman, Trident Group

“Farming community is the backbone of the Indian economy and needs to be heard patiently. The protest is not limited to Punjab. It has spread not only to most parts of India, but internationally too. The impact of agitation on industry is inevitable as a lot of difficulties have come up which have slowed down the business in general and movement of goods in particular but the cause, the farmers are protesting for, is indeed genuine. The best part is that the farmers have ensured that the protest is very peaceful. There is no point in unnecessarily blaming the opposition for agitation as it is only extending support to farmers. Had the opposition instigated the farmers, the agitation could not have assumed the proportion that it has. The protest has very active participation of not only millions of farmers but the society in general also. In a democracy there has to be very constructive dialogue with those affected rather than maintaining silence and evading the issues. If the Government feels that the three farm acts are for the welfare of the farmers then it is the sole responsibility of the government to create that much awareness among the farmers, which unfortunately does not seem to have been done so far. In my view today’s farmers are very aware and their views and expectations cannot be just brushed aside by sheer power of the government and lop sided reporting by a section of media, especially electronic media. ”

V K Goyal, Executive Director & CEO, SEL Group

“I feel that farmers are protesting for a justified cause. They must get proper price for their crops. I make edible oil from the bran of rice and I am the largest producer of this oil in India. Ours was the first company to start making edible refined oil from rice bran in India with brand name ‘Ricela’ and we have patent for the same. It was being used only for soaps and detergents earlier. Even now 70 per cent of the edible oil is imported, our farmer can earn a lot by doing farming of oil seeds, provided the cheap imports are stopped and government ensures MSP on oil seeds as well. Edible oil manufacturers will be purchasing oil seeds at MSP for sure if such provisions are done. In Punjab, there is no MSP on oil seeds till now. If 25 per cent of the area of Punjab is converted into oil seed farming, imports are stopped then our farmers can earn a lot and we can be self sufficient in making of edible refined oils in our own country. There needs to be value addition to agriculture sector by doing research. The farmer needs to get assurance of MSP and his issue needs to be resolved soon.”

Dr A R Sharma, Chairman, Ricela Health Foods Limited

“I feel that farmers must get better prices of their produce. As in case of sugarcane which has MSP, private sugar mills owe crores of rupees to farmers. While selling something to government agency, there is an assurance that payment is secured. I feel that government must listen to the voice of masses. Farmers get less prices of many products. Hence, their fears need to be redressed.”

Ajay Bector, MD, Mrs Bector’s Cremica Enterprises Ltd

“Farmers’ protest have hit the industry hard. Earlier, it was due to Covid and now due to agitation of farmers because of which transport and other facilities have been impacted. They have been protesting for more than 3 months in an aggressive mode. Government must ensure a midway to settle this soon as both farmers as well as industry are the backbone of the economy.”

Komal Jain, Chairman, Duke Fashions

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