Where did the government go wrong? This question needs serious pondering!
Though the three farm laws have been withdrawn, its ramifications are going to be felt for a long time. True the way in which the law was enacted in the form of an ordinance was enacted without a proper debate was highly erroneous. The timing of the bill was also not correct since there was no hurry to enact the law.
When the opening of the Indian economy was heralded by Manmohan Singh, the then finance minister in the Narsimha Rao ministry it was the necessity of the hour. However, there was no emergency for the Government to enact the farm laws in such a hurry.
Delay in rollback of farm laws led farmers to harden their stance
The delay in the climb-down by the government has also led to a hardening of stance by the farmers. Narendra Modi‘s speech to the nation saw him accepting his folly, asking for forgiveness is something which is unparalleled in Indian history. No other leader including Jawaharlal Nehru after the 1962 China debacle, or Indira Gandhi after declaring emergency had expressed regret.
Despite Modi’s humbleness, farmers do not believe his words and are waiting for the law to be withdrawn in the Parliament. The decision by the farmers to force the government bring a law ensuring Minimum Support Price (MSP) for produce in the future is also filled with risks.
Crop diversification and MSP
At present, there are 23 items on which the MSP is in force. However, the government mostly buys wheat and paddy. The government buys these produce at a higher price than the market price. Therefore, farmers do not diversify their crops and mostly grow paddy and wheat for which they have a captive market. The net result is that the government warehouses are bursting at their seams. Tons of Wheat and Rice are rotting or eaten up by rodents.
The rich farmers of Punjab, Haryana and Eastern Uttar Pradesh spearheaded this movement because they were most affected if the government removes the MSP. Farmers in MP, for example, have diversified their crops. It includes Rice, Wheat, Pea, Gram and vegetables. Hence, they did not take part in the agitation.
Crops within the ambit of MSP should increase
The lack of diversification of crops also affects the fertility of the soil. The farmers who solely grow Wheat and Paddy depend heavily on fertilizers and water. The produce in Punjab and Haryana are also laced with insecticides which are used heavily. Lack of Crop Rotation puts a strain on the nutrients of the soil which is replenished using fertilizers.
The best option for the government is to increase the number of crops within the ambit of MSP. The MSP must also be flexible depending on market sentiments. In the end, the Government must always stay as a mentor of the farmers which will ensure that they are never exploited by large multinational companies who will try to monopolize the food sector.