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Gujarat: Murmurs of protest, fears at meet

Jasubha Katariya (47), a farmer with 50 bigha land in Tared village in Bhavnagar, said he welcomed the reform allowing traders to procure directly from farmers but added that it was a matter of concern also.

Written by Gopal B Kateshiya | Savarkundla | December 18, 2020 5:06:46 am
farm bills, farm bills protest, punjab farmers, bjp, RC Faldu, gujarat farmers, indian express newsBJP leaders hand over a canvas bearing names and signatures of farmers supporting the farm laws to Agriculture Minister Ranchhod Faldu, in Savarkundla on Thursday. (Express Photo)

EVEN AS around 400 farmers signed a piece of canvas in support of the recent agricultural reform acts enacted by the Central government, some farmers this paper spoke to expressed fears about the reforms, especially about selling directly and about smaller farmers being at disadvantage when entering into contracts.

The public meeting organised by the BJP at Savarkundla town to galvanise farmers support for the recent reforms comes amid intense protests by farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, on the borders of Delhi, demanding repeal of the three acts.

The farmers got their names and contact details entered in a register at the gate of Shree Maheta Ramjibhai Amarshibhai Sarvajanik Sanatorium, the venue of the sammelan and then signed a 10-feet long canvas kept at the venue of the meeting addressed by state Agriculture Minister RC Faldu.

“I sell cotton to traders who come to my village and also cart it to the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) in Rajula. This year, I sold cotton from my home twice. I haven’t seen any perceptible increase in number of traders visiting my village to procure from farmers… I still believe these reforms would do good to farmers,” Najabhai Pinjar (65), a 45 bigha farmer from Hadmatiya village and who was at the sammelan, said. He is a BJP worker.

Jasubha Katariya (47), a farmer with 50 bigha land in Tared village in Bhavnagar, said he welcomed the reform allowing traders to procure directly from farmers but added that it was a matter of concern also.

“It is good that farmers will have more options. But these reforms are likely to weaken APMCs and that can be very harmful for farmers. In our area, around 70 per cent farmers take advance from traders to purchase seeds and fertilisers. If APMCs go bust, this arrangement will also be under threat,” Katariya, who grows onions, said. He added that providing a legal framework for contract farming would help onion growers. “Companies may not be interested in entering into contracts with farmers with five to 10 bigha land,” Katariya added.

Office-bearers of Bhavnagar APMC also submitted a banner signed by farmers who had gone to the yard to sell their produce, to which Faldu and convenor of farmers cell of BJP’s Gujarat state unit, Babu Jebaliya, suggested that other APMCs can follow suit.

“We are not going to do it… It is not fair to ask farmers to sign such banners when they don’t understand details of the recent laws,” an APMC chairman, who was present at the meeting, said.

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