The lack of clarity over the farm laws is now more than apparent with Haryana barring farmers from Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan from bringing paddy and bajra for sale in the state’s markets. The decision by the BJP-JJP coalition government has come at a time when paddy procurement has just begun and in neighbouring Punjab, the Shiromani Akali Dal has chosen to opt out of the government at the Centre of which it was a part, following disagreement over the matter, even as farmer unions have decided to intensify their agitation and the Captain Amarinder Singh-led Congress government is exploring legal options to challenge these Bills.
Haryana’s decision is contrary to the claims made by the Centre that farmers would be free to sell their produce anywhere, with Prime Minister Modi accusing the Opposition of disregarding their welfare and favouring only the middlemen. To justify its policy, the state has blamed unscrupulous traders who procure crops from outside at a lower price and then sell it in Haryana at a higher MSP. While the state has made it mandatory for farmers, even those from outside the state, to register and mention the area on which the crop was sown to weed out fake entries, the lack of support price in the adjoining states is a matter of concern because the government has clarified that the MSP regime would remain. There are already demands that crop sale in any area should only be at the support price. It also calls for coordination between the states to help farmers navigate the official requirements.
The Centre has been claiming that the agricultural reforms will be progressive, but it is hard put to dispel the notion about the farmers not being shortchanged because of the diversity in agricultural operations across the country. The dilemma of changing the lop-sided nature of farming without affecting the stakeholders is proving to be a challenge. More than convincing, transparent mechanisms will be needed to inspire trust and allay apprehensions.