Even as the farmers’ agitation against the three Central farm laws is continuing, agriculture experts say that some of the changes envisaged are already in place in Haryana.
“Contract farming of barley in parts of Bhiwani, Sirsa and Hisar has been going on for the past several years. However, the same is not the case for major crops like wheat, paddy and cotton, which are being procured at the MSP in Haryana,” says Dr Gyan Parkash Bhargava, retired Principal Scientist from Central Soil Salinity Research Institute (CSSRI). He says a majority of the farmers are still inclined towards wheat and paddy cultivation.
“Efforts should be made to educate farmers about contract farming, which could be more beneficial for them as well as for the soil as it would promote crop diversification, but the government must ensure a transparent system that will empower farmers so that no player exploits them,” he adds.
Data obtained from the Haryana State Agricultural Marketing Board (HSAMB) reveals that seven companies have got themselves registered for contract farming in the state so far, but now only two are working on barley. Contract farming of basmati paddy, potato and wheat was also started, but it fizzled out due to lack of interest among farmers.
“Contract farming is being done by farmers of the state. With the new laws, the practice will flourish,” says Sumedha Kataria, Chief Administrator, HSAMB.
She says Haryana is already procuring most of the crops at the MSP and the payment is being transferred directly into the farmers’ accounts. She claims that the e-market system (e-NAM) is providing a platform to the farmers to sell their produce anywhere in the country. “The new laws will help in providing additional opportunities to the farmers to sell their produce anywhere at good prices. The mandi system will remain intact as we already have huge infrastructure in the state,” she says.
Rajinder Arya, president, Bhartiya Kisan Mazdoor Naujawan Union, says farmers were earlier also free to sell their produce anywhere as there was no law mandating that they should sell it at a particular place. “The e-NAM system is functional, but farmers are not tech-savvy, due to which it has not received a good response,” he says. He fears private players or private mandis would exploit farmers and signal the end of the mandi system. “The government is trying to distance itself from the procurement process and promoting private players,” he adds.
Vinod Kumar, a farmer of Sultanpur, says private players were earlier procuring mustard at throwaway prices before the government started procurement at the MSP.
A retired agriculture scientist advocates the mandi system. “A majority of the farmers are dependent on the arhtiyas. The private players would have to establish trust among farmers. Haryana has one of the best mandi systems in the country and farmers prefer to sell their produce here even after the e-NAM system was launched by the Centre,” he adds.
Farmers should opt for high-value crops which will be beneficial to them, says a senior official of the agriculture department, ruing that huge stocks of wheat and rice are lying in godowns.
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