Odisha farmers take out rally against new farm laws

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Sambalpur (Odisha), Oct 30 (PTI) Farmers from across Odisha held a rally in Bargarh district on Friday to protest against the new farm laws describing these as a threat to the farming community and age-old institutions.

Shouting slogans against the farm laws, a large number of farmers took part in the rally at Padampur town under the banner of Paschim Odisha Krushak Sangathan Samanwaya Samiti (POKSSS) and Rajbodasambar Krushak Sangathan and congregated at a mega protest meeting.

Terming the new laws as 'anti-farmer', POKSSS Convenor Lingaraj said in the meeting that farmers of Odisha have so far been opposing the laws symbolically, but now they have intensified their agitation.

The rally speaks about growing resentment among the farmers, he said.

Paddy procurement is slated to begin in Odisha from November and the state government should ensure that farmers get the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for their produce, Lingaraj said.

Another farmer leader Saroj said the new farm laws will destroy age-old institutions such as Agricultural Produce Market Committee, Food Corporation of India and State Mandi Board.

Since MSP is no longer a legal right in the new laws, there is every possibility that farmers will not get MSP in private mandis, he said.

This apart, in contract farming, in the name of gradation or low quality, private companies may not abide by an agreement. As the majority of the farmers are small, marginal and sharecropper, it will be difficult for them to wage a legal battle against the corporate sector in case of agreement violation, he said.

There is nothing called 'essential commodities' under the new laws, Saroj said and claimed that unscrupulous businessmen will resort to unlimited hoarding and create artificial scarcity, causing sufferings for the consumer.

He said that if the state government is really concerned about peasants, it should bring a law to make MSP a legal right of farmers.

During the last monsoon session of Parliament, three new agri bills were passed, followed by President Ram Nath Kovind giving his assent to them on September 27.

The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, seeks to give freedom to farmers to sell their produce outside of the notified Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) market yards.

The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, gives farmers the right to enter into a contract with agribusiness firms, processors, wholesalers, exporters, or large retailers for the sale of future farming produce at a pre-agreed price.

The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020, is meant to remove commodities like cereals, pulses, oilseeds, onion, and potato from the list of essential commodities and do away with the imposition of stock holding limits. PTI COR SKN NN NN