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“In a worrying development, there has been a narrative-push by some members including Canada, the US and EU to pin the blame for the growth in global levels of trade-distorting subsidies in agriculture on large developing countries such as China, India and Indonesia,” said an official.
"The government is open to look into various amendments," a government official told Reuters, ahead of a meeting between farmers and ministers scheduled for Saturday. "It is open to the idea of imposing taxes on the new wholesale markets to keep a level playing field," he said.
According to a report by PTI, thousands of farmers have reached the national capital on their tractor-trolleys and other vehicles, responding to the "Delhi Chalo" call against the agri-marketing laws enacted at the Centre in September. Farmer unions in Punjab and Haryana say the recent laws enacted at the Centre will dismantle the minimum support price (MSP) system. Over time big corporate houses will dictate terms and farmers will end up getting less for their crops, they argue.
Sitharaman said that the agriculture ministry has gone through the process of talking to stakeholders and these are the things that have been in discussions for very long time. She also said that national parties, state level parties have all mentioned it at different times that these are reforms which were long awaited.
The farmers -- mostly from Punjab, often called India’s bread-basket -- want him to repeal three laws passed in September that allow them to sell crops directly to private firms instead of licensed middlemen at state-controlled markets.
Sowing for the rabi crop season had already covered 348 lakh hectare (ha) by November 27, which is 4 per cent more than in the whole of the previous season, and 2 per cent above the average of the past five years, Crisil Ratings said in a report.
Potato prices had shot up more than 90% this year to Rs 45- 48 per kg at the retail level from Rs 24-26 per kg last year. Now prices have fallen to Rs 25-26 per kg at the wholesale level.
Traders have alleged such a huge investment was possible for only a handful of the multinationals and a few Indian buyers, allegedly including two office-bearers of the Cotton Association of India (CAI). They claimed these bulk buyers formed a cartel to take advantage of the CCI's scheme.
View: Rolling back farm reforms would privilege a small but vociferous group over the silent majority
Behind the protests are arthiyas, buying agents in APMC mandis, who stand to lose Rs 1500 crore a year in commissions, plus rich farmers of Punjab, who are part of the 6% of India’s farmers who benefit from the MSP regime, according to the 70th round of the NSS.
The protests may have less to do with the recent reforms, which allow farmers to enter into direct contracts with purchasers and which eliminate the monopoly government warehouses previously held on the wholesale trade, than those that may be coming. The answer isn’t for the government to reverse course — it’s to go further.
According to the data, the country's sugar production stood at 42.9 lakh tonnes during October-November period of 2020-21 marketing year as against 20.72 lakh tonnes in the year-ago period.
Vegetable prices in Delhi have fallen back to normal levels after a surge caused by the blockage of highways by protesting farmers.
The government has maintained that the new laws will bring farmers better opportunities and usher in new technologies in agriculture.
Rs 6,314 cr transferred to cotton farmers, 5 lakh farmers benefitted after procurement: Smriti Irani
On the recently approved Production Linked Incentives (PLI) to the textiles sector, she said this is the first financial support given by the government to an emerging industry where competitiveness and competence will be valued and awarded.
"Keeping in view the cold and Covid-19, we have invited leaders of farmer unions for discussion much before the scheduled December 3 meeting," Tomar told PTI.
Concerned about high food inflation, especially high prices of pulses, onions and edible oils, India had changed import policies to improve domestic availability with imported commodities. Damages caused to the vegetable crops due to excess rainfall had caused prices to spike.
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