December 7, 2021

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The three farm laws: What experts had said

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The three farm laws: What experts had said
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The three farm laws: What experts had said
The three farm laws: What experts had said

NEW DELHI: Experts had mostly expressed favourable opinions about the three farm laws the Modi government had brought, even as farmers’ bodies protested vehemently.
Now that the laws are set to be withdrawn, we look back at what experts had said.
‘More freedom, and better prices’
Eminent economist SA Aiyar, in his blog published on TOI had said the new farm laws were to help farmers get a better price by cutting out middlemen and improving marketing efficiencies, while giving farmers freedom to sell their produce anywhere in India.
With figures to show that farming as a profession was becoming increasingly less attractive and pointing to shrinking farm sizes, Aiyar had said that the main solution lies in moving people out of agriculture into manufacturing and services; other measures are only palliatives.
Batting for contract farming, Aiyar had said it will create scale economies for farmers and ensure a minimum price.
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‘Laws beneficial, but communication failure by govt’
Noted agricultural economist Ashok Gulati, who was a member of Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council from 1999 to 2001, said there was a great communication failure on the part of the Centre to explain to the farmers how these laws could help them.
Political parties and social activists exploited this communication gap and launched a misinformation campaign, Gulati said.
‘Reforms must, only dispute is over which strategy to pursue’
Bloomberg columnist Andy Mukherjee agreed with the need for agri reforms and said the only dispute is over which strategy to pursue.
“Farming must come out of its sub-3% growth rut. Productivity of labour, land, fertiliser and water have to improve. Massive private investments need to take place in storage and processing for the country’s 2% share of global agricultural exports to increase,” Mukherjee had opined.
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‘No downside for the farmer, only significant upside’
Arvind Panagariya, who served as the vice-chairman of NITI Aayog between January 2015 and August 2017, strongly backed the new farm laws. He also said there is no downside and the upside is “significant”.
Commission agents who have guaranteed income from APMC transactions had reasons to be upset by the reforms, he had said.
“Any rollback of the reform is bound to encourage vested interests to rise up against other reforms,” Panagariya had said.
‘New farm bills are flawed’
Kaushik Basu, former chief economist of the World Bank had a differing view. The new farm bills are flawed, and will end up serving corporate interests more than farmers, he had said.
‘Farmer unions to be blamed for intransigence’
R Jagannathan, editorial director of Swarajya was critical of the BJP for not taking the farmers’ concerns seriously and letting the agitation snowball. However he faulted the farm unions for their inflexibility, even after the government had bent over backwards to accommodate most of their concerns without compromising the three farm reform laws it has legislated.
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