Chhattisgarh passes amendment bill to counter center’s farm bills.

The Chhattisgarh assembly has approved the Chhattisgarh Krishi Upaj Mandi (Amendment) Bill 2020 on October 27, 2020. The government  declared that the entire state will act as a market for selling agriculture produce. This decision was taken in order to negate the Centre’s farm laws which had allowed private players to directly buy produce from farmers.

Highlights

  • The bill is aimed at protecting farmers of the state from fluctuating market prices and payment risks.
  • Amendments were made in the Mandi Act so that farmers get better prices against their produce.
  • Amendment bill also include the provision to safeguard the interests of the farmers.
  • The bill however, does not violate any Central laws.

Objective of the bill

The state of Chhattisgarh comprises 80 percent small and marginal farmers. These marginal and small farmers neither have the capacity to store food grains nor have the capacity to bargain prices in the market. Thus, it is necessary to establish ‘Deemed Mandi (Market)’ and electronic trading platform. This will enable them to get the right price for their produce without being impacted by market fluctuations.

Provisions of the bill

  1. The bill declare or establish deemed market which shall be known as deemed market of the market established for sale-purchase, processing, manufacturing, silos, cold storage, warehouse, electronic trading and transaction platform with respect of the agricultural produce specified in the schedule.
  2. The bill seeks to ensure power to the secretary or any employee of the market committee or the board, who is empowered by the competent authority or notified officers.
  3. Under the bill, state government departments or officials have been given right to inspection and seizure, right to inspect storage (godowns) and vehicles. The bill also defines the rights of courts.

Background

The three Farm Bills including – The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was given President’s assent.  These bills, which have now become acts, seeks to bring amendments  in some of the key aspects of the farm economy including trade in price assurance,  agricultural commodities, farm services including contracts and stock limits for essential commodities. The acts also imposes several restrictions of private stock holding of agricultural produce or to create trading areas free of middlemen and to take the market to the farmer. However, the acts are being criticized and being protested as farmers believe that the free market philosophy supported by these acts might hamper and abolish the Minimum Support Price (MSP) system and make farmers vulnerable to market forces.