As Government prepares to hold 6th round of meeting with the farmers, ICFA initiated consultations with diverse groups and held a zoom meeting today joined by 86 eminent persons. In all 3 options emerged for both sides to examine and work on:
1. Government agrees to rescind the 3 Acts and farmers go back happily. In this case no commitments on MSP, as being demanded by the farmers. But this will be loss to agriculture sector and to the 92% non MSP accessing farmers who are to be benefited by these Acts.
2. Government agrees to put in abeyance the implementation of these Acts and calls for a meeting of the States for wider consultations. And by an Ordinance these Acts are treated as Model Acts and left to the States to adopt.
3. Government or any 3rd party moves to the SC passes orders for the Government to resolve the issue with 60 or 90 days by holding talks with farmers, state governments and all other key stakeholders by forming an expert group.
Instead of talks to break as both sides are sticking to their grounds, it is better to buy time for wider consultations and coming up with more options. Therefore the 3rd option could be preferred. In this case the Government may have to work on to create massive level awareness programs, build positivity in favour of the Acts as also to create more confidence among the protesting farmers by special measures, which could be as under:
1. Special funds under the Agri Infra funds of 1 lac crore to be earmarked and named as Mandi Infrastructure Upgradation Fund @ Rs. 10,000 crores. This will give clear signal that the Government is going to strengthen the Mandis with better technologies and infrastructure, rather dismantling them, as the apprehensions are being expressed by farmers. Mandis in any case are needed for markets to behave.
2. The Green Revolution Belt, where farmers are protesting can be declared as Special Agri Zone with special funds @ Rs. 15-25000 crores for a) Crop Diversification b) Micro irrigation
c) Food Processing d) Rapid pace FPOs creation e) Increased rural credit options to replace Arahtiyas, who act as money lenders.
3. The GR Belt could be assured IPP (international price parity) on landing cost for the assured buying of oilseeds and by additional production incentives so that the forex used for oilseed import could be used to support large scale oilseed production in GR belt and India becomes self reliant in oilseeds.
4. Special body such as Agriculture Reforms Commission could be set up for a period of 3 years, and to continue for addressing the issues arising out of reforms, trade and development. Alternatively National Farmers Commission II.
5. Implementation to be done in phases based on the agreements with and consents of the States, and a transition period of 3 years to be taken. Given the strong potential benefits, half the States will jump on, and seeing the benefits, other will join.
6. Massive awareness and capacity building programs to be started for farmers, FPOs and other agri agencies, stakeholders to be able to fully understand and avail benefits, linking them with eNAM as well, where farmers are not able to operate directly and benefit.
7. A National Digital Registration Portal to be set up for all private agencies to register with full details for procurement inside or outside the Mandi system. Merely PAN card is not enough. The terms could be made little more farmer friendly.
8. Consultation process to be widened to invite all those who favour these legislations, including FPOs, Agri Startups, commodity bodies, farmers associations in eastern and southern India, State Govts, trade and industry.
9. To complete the agri reforms one major program is required of creating a system of matching demand-supply. Otherwise FCI will be heavily burdened and causing huge loss to the Govt. By MSP Announcement Policy and CSI Survey Technologies, this could be done.
10. Articles by eminent persons who are respected by farmers in GR Belt could be written to clarify misconceptions and highlighting the benefits of the Acts.