NEW DELHI—It is doubtful if the Narendra Modi government’s three farm reform bills––passed under controversial circumstances in parliament––will lead to the establishment of private markets for farmers to sell their produce, said agricultural economist R Ramakumar in an interview with HuffPost India.
“The other question is whether private markets would indeed come up as a result of these reforms. I am not sure if they would. The experience of Bihar, Kerala or Maharashtra do not inspire confidence in this respect,” wrote R. Ramakumar, who teaches at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in Mumbai, in response to this reporter’s questions.
Professor Ramakumar pointed out that the Bihar government abolished its Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act in 2006, Kerala never had the law and Maharashtra changed its own APMC law in 2018 on the lines of what is today officially known as the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, which is soon to become law.
And yet, he said, private markets and investments have not yet flown into these states. “Where are the private investments in these states? Including in Maharashtra, most big corporate retail firms purchase their food items directly from APMC markets, and not directly from farmers. This shows the importance of APMC markets, and the need to strengthen them,” argued Ramakumar.
Establishment of private wholesale markets for farm produce and provision of a legal framework for contract farming, two of the many ways in which farmers can sell their produce directly to companies by apparently eliminating middlemen, are among the key anticipated outcomes of the agriculture reforms pushed by the Narendra Modi government through the controversial amendments to three laws related with agricultural marketing.
The three bills, which were passed recently under controversial circumstances in parliament, are: the farmers produce trade and commerce (promotion...