The CPI(M)-led Kerala government is planning to bring in its own legislation to bypass the farm laws introduced by the Union government.
Kerala Agriculture Minister and CPI leader V S Sunil Kumar said the state is planning to introduce a new legislation that would ensure minimum support price for crops.
The government last month had issued an order, fixing the base price for perishable products such as vegetables and fruits, and 600 markets have been notified for procurement of such products as a joint effort of the agriculture and cooperative departments. That order would be made a statutory one with the backing of a legislation, he said.
The minister said that a committee has been constituted to form a draft within a week. “We would also see the new legislation introduced by other states against the Centre’s farm laws, before drafting the new state law. It would be binding for the animal husbandry sector also,” he said.
The minister rejected the Union government’s stand that Kerala would not be affected by the new laws as the state does not have APMC and mandi system. “Kerala is a consumer state. Produces to our markets are coming from these mandis. When that system collapses or goes into the hands of corporate houses, a situation would arise in which corporate houses fix the price. That would affect our market and public distribution system in the coming years,” he said.
Instead of contract farming, the minister said Kerala is promoting group farming with the help of cooperatives and clusters of farmers. “Kerala has 1,800 primary agriculture cooperatives, which would be used for marketing and value addition of products. Already our paddy cultivation is totally under group farming. Vegetable cultivation would be brought under clusters. We have 2,000 clusters of farmers and the state-run Vegetable and Fruit Promotion Council-Kerala has 12,000 self-help groups with around 2.80 lakh farmers as members. These would be strengthened and brought into a single network. Our aim would be to ensure MSP, procure the produce and go for value addition,” he said.
Meanwhile, the state government has convened a special Assembly session on December 31 to pass a resolution against the Union government’s farm laws. The Opposition Congress has also extended its support for the resolution.