Shimla, Dec 9
The Union Government’s so-called three farm laws have nothing to do with the ground reality of the state as it would not help to double or improve the income of farmers, stated Himachal Pradesh Kisan Sabha which is the state body affiliated with All India Kisan Sabha stated today.
State President of Himachal Pradesh Kisan Sabha Dr. Kuldeep Singh Tanwar said that it is unfortunate that Union Government and its counterparts in the state are trying to mislead the common man about the benefits of so-called farm laws which would not yield any benefits to the farmers of the hill state.
Three central laws hardly put any positive impact to improve the conditions and income of distress in the agrarian sectors. Dr Tanwar said that currently, the state produced about 17.50 lakh metric tonne vegetables( off-season) and other species and only 15 -16 lakh metric tonne of food grain and cereals including pulses and oilseed per annum.
Besides the state produces fruits mostly pome fruits to the tune of average in between six to seven lakh metric per year. However, this production keeps going up and down to about ten lakh metric tonnes. The accumulated productions of food grain vegetables and fruits come to tunes of about 35 Lakh MT to 40 lakh MT.
The Minimum sports prices were being provided by the Food Corporation of India governor for 23 items however only three items are being produced in the state that could fall under its ambit. He said that three items include Maize, Paddy, and Wheat. “Only wheat falls under the MSP as FCI does not procure Maize and Paddy in the state as Maize is surplus food grains,” added Tanwar.
FCI is only procuring an average of 800 metric tonnes of wheat per annum and during 2020 about 3130 mt of wheat is procured from the hill state. Which is just 0.5 percent of total food grains procured. The Kisan Sabha also raised the important issue of procurement of Maize on MSP from the state as three to four lakh metric tone of maize is being produced in surplus by the hill state.
” Due to non-availability of FCI Maize policy in the hill state farmers were forced to sell their last Kharif season Maize at the throwaway price of Rs eight to 12 per kilogram which did not cover their cost of production, he rued.
Kisan Sabha through its consistent demands has been seeking MSP on the Maize, Vegetables, and fruits which should be determined on the recommendations of. Prof MS Swaminathan. The Commission recommended MSP on all types of crops produced by the farmers which include the cost of production plus 20 percent above. Baring state of Kerala which is providing MSP on sixteen items including food grain, vegetables, spices, and tubers there are no other state states which is cover all major crops being produced by the farmers.
Second demands of farmers include the creation of value addition ecosystems for the major crops of thill states which include Tomato, Potato, Garlic, Onion, Turmeric, and Maize. The study conducted by the Chudhary Sharvan Kumar University Palampur found that 34 types of value addition productions could be produced out of maize to provide remunerative prices to the farmers, Dr Tanwar said.
HKSs third demand for the benefit of farmers is to create the storage facilities for fruit, vegetable, and food grain for the farmers by creating cold-storage, warehouses, and cold chain, etc.
AIKS the national farmer union of HKS of left is among 250 farmer mass organizations and unions protesting since Nov 27 for repealing the so-called farm laws. Dr Tanwar said. The delegates of HKS are also attending a joint protest being held near the Western UP border along with various Farmers’ unions belonging to Himachal, Punjab, and Haryana.
The fear of MSP which is considered the major driving force for the protest of farmers seemed to be partly absent in the state as FCI has no procurement in the hill state among the fruit growers. Fruit and vegetables comprise the principal crops of farmers in the state which are being bought in the open market as there are around 59 APMC market yards in the hill state.
Local farmers are also skeptical about the long term impact of the three farms laws as many big food outlets and cold chains have already made their entry about five years ago buying the apple crops from farmers and APMCs.
CPI(M) MLA states
Himachal Pradesh Seb Utpadak Sangh president and CPI(M) member of Assembly from Theog Rakesh Singh said that several big chains including Devbhumi, Adani, Reliance, and Mother dairy are buying apple from the traders, farmers and in the open markets however the corporates have massive storage capacity are glutting the retail markets at the time when farmers go in the market to sell their crops next year to create a glut of fruits which brought down the prices of apple to Rs 20 to 25 kg in the wholesale markets.
Marginal Apple grower Gobind Chatranta feels
Marginal apple producers of Jubbal area Govind Chatranta said that farmers have to sell their crops in the markets at very low prices as they often are trapped in the nexus. He said that the state is already facing the threat of contract farming as the two farmer cooperatives including Shatali and LahaulSpiti Potato growers are being overtaken by the corporate farming models.
He alleged that the three farms laws are being brought under the Union Government’s commitments to WTO and Dunken commission to withdraw the farm subsidy and market intervention system to make the access for the big retail outlets by removing the farm protections. The Farmers are under the double whammy today because of big retailers including domestic and international, foreign trade institutions which want to capsize over the vast retail markets of India.
The Indian Government and Niti Ayog are trying to bulldoze the agenda of such foreign institutions and big retailers in the country to take over the tilling landholdings of people by making them more vulnerable added Chatranta. He informed that farmers of Sirmaur are facing the burnt of such market forces as are not getting enough price band on their crops and they have been forced to sell the garlic on the price band of Rs six to Rs 30 per kg this year compared to Rs 150 kg last year.
Currently, Ginger is being sold at the prices of Rs ten to 20 per kg in the wholesale markets compared to average prices of Rs 130 to Rs 150 per kg, other farmers lamented.