From Bhadra Gogoi
Dimapur: Two young farmers from Punjab have set out on a mission to sensitise farmers across states in India on minimum support price (MSP) of farm produce and why the central government’s three new farm laws are detrimental to their interest.
Prompted by the ongoing protest against the three farm laws along Delhi-Harayana border, Manjinda Singh Randhawa (31) from Patiala and Sukhjinda Singh Gill from Ferozpore embarked on their journey from Chandigarh on January 6 in a Scorpio vehicle. They have travelled through Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal before entering Assam. They reached here on Saturday and interacted with some farmers on their arrival.
They have made provisions for sleeping inside the vehicle and are keeping sleeping bags for those who are willing to be associated in their mission during the tour. There are also utensils and a stove for cooking on the way throughout the journey so as to reduce cost of travel.
Son of a farmer, Abhilash Rajkhowa from Assam who completed his masters from Punjab University last year joined the duo in Guwahati to help spread the message across the farming community in the Northeast.
They want the farmers from the region and other parts of the country to join the protest against the farm laws.
Paying from their own pocket, both the farmers began their journey to propagate the message that the farmers will not get justice until they get the MSP for their produce.
They want the farmers from all over the country to be aware of their rights and fight for it. They want the farming community to join the protest against the government’s farm laws to get justice.
Addressing media persons here today, Randhawa said the MSP is the price fixed by the government on farm produce.
He said barring farmers from Punjab and Haryana, the MSP is not known to the farming community in the other states. At present, the MSP is applicable only in the two states of Punjab and Haryana.
“There are no mandis (government regulated agricultural markets) in other states. So the farmers are not aware of the MSP,” he noted.
Randhawa expressed surprise to know that the farmers in the north eastern states, along with some other states, are selling rice at Rs 700 to Rs 1200 per quintal whereas their counterparts in Punjab and Haryana are selling the same rice at Rs 1900. This is happening because there is no MSP fixed by the government here, he said.
He added, “Unless you know your rights, you cannot fight for it.” He was referring to the farmers who are staging protest against the new farm bills since November 26 last year.
Highlighting on the new laws, Randhawa said once the MSP fixed by the government is done away with, the corporate will decide the price of the farm produce. The farmers will then be compelled to sell their produce at any price fixed by the private parties.
He said to trick the farmers, the corporate will pay them more than the MSP initially. He said the farmers will then stop selling their produce to the mandis, which become non-existent at a later stage. The corporate will decide the price of the farm produce ultimately, he added.
Randhawa said the farmers will not rest until the government rolls back the three farm laws. “We do not want any amendment to the new farm billsas proposed by the government,” he stated.
Gill said the government enacted the farm laws taking advantage of the COVID-19 epidemic. Through the new laws, the government is allowing the private parties to control the market.
He said the MSP should be legalised all over the country without which the farmers will not get the right price for their produce.
Rajkhowa elucidated the three new farm bills and why there is apprehension about them among the farmers.
He said the farmers cannot participate in mandis, prices of crops will be reduced in private markets after they are paid higher prices for their produce initially, they will not get assured prices for their crops and will be exploited by the private players through the new laws.
The new laws will benefit the big companies who have capacity to store agricultural products in large numbers while the majority of farmers who own less than five acres of land cannot afford to store the agricultural products, Rajkhowa added.
The Nagaland chapter of Bharatiya Farmers Agro Business Development Cooperative Ltd. extended support to the two farmers from Punjab in their mission. President of the organisation PH Tripathi, along with other members of the organisation, was also present at the press conference.
After completing their mission in Nagaland, the farmers left for Manipur today.