Middlemen siphoning off farmers’ interest: Vijay Sardana

The agriculture economist spoke to Kailashnath Adhikari, MD, Governance Now

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Dec 9, 2021 9:17 AM

Agriculture economist Vijay Sardana has said that middlemen are  siphoning off farmers’ interests, and the repeal of three laws that were brought in to minimize the exploitation of farmers was a political compulsion.        

“There is a huge siphoning of farmers’ interest by middlemen, for which these laws were required. The laws were an economic necessity for farmers of India. Farmers are the biggest losers due to the repeal of laws as the laws were brought in to minimize the exploitation of farmers that has been taking place for the last 70 years,” he said.

Sardana was in a live conversation with Kailashnath Adhikari, MD, Governance Now during the webcast as part of the Visionary Talk series held by public policy and governance analysis platform.

On being asked if the laws were beneficial for farmers, then why are the farmers opposing them, he said the Act allowed farmers to sell their produce outside the mandis if they did not get good prices in APMC, for which he neither had to pay a commission or tax. This would have broken the monopoly of cartels of middlemen as nobody would deal with them and was not liked by them.

Accusing farmer leaders of “losing their conscience'', he said with such weak farmer leaders, those states don’t have a good future. The fact of the matter, he said, is that none of the farmer leaders are pro-farmers because farmers of India are poor and these farmers’ leaders are very rich. “They are representing the rich class that wants to exploit India and keep the majority of farmers backward. These people are funded by outside agencies.” 

“There is a big agenda. A large number of anti-national forces, in the name of farmers’ agitation, ganged up, and this call of withdrawal is basically to stop those forces. The agenda is designed by these so-called farmer leaders who are hand-in-hand with commission agents to protect them. They are puppets in the hands of anti-national forces,” he said.

He asked if these farmer leaders ever made a noise against middlemen and the APMC, which is the source of exploitation and corruption and if these should be handed over to farmer organizations. 

He alleged that the money for agitation for farmers came from ‘arhtiyas’ or middlemen who had political support.

“All these people ganged up against reforms, and for that reason you must have seen that this gangism happened in three states where commissions are paid through taxpayers’ money i.e. FCI (food corporation of India). Everyone is eyeing taxpayers and all these exploiters want taxpayers to continue to fund their luxuries.”

Sardana said that there is a huge difference between what the consumer is spending and paying for the crop and what the farmer is getting. 

He said farmers have been denied linkage with the market, small farmers were exploited and there was acute poverty in villages especially among small farmers. 

One being asked if there was a larger threat looming under the garb of agitation he said, the fact is that India is a huge market of 140 crore people. “Nobody would want to lose this market…nobody wants India to progress. If it becomes self-sufficient and self-reliant… whenever there is any agitation or anti-development action in the country forces that join in are common. That is why the PM says ‘andolan jeevi’ because they survive on agitation…they are funded and fueled by anti-national forces living inside and outside India.” 

Sardana said that India’s 60% population is farmers and  tax payers are 3%-4%. If whatever little tax that is collected is given to farmers, it is political shortsightedness. If there will be no development, R&D, education, or quality health care, there is no future for India. He said farmers get money only through consumers or the government and if you don’t connect them with consumers and they get their money from the government, what is the future of this country? 

On repealing the Essential Commodities Act, he said it is a big loss to infrastructure development. The country is producing 305 million tons of foodgrains and our total storage capacity, including govt and private, is only 85 million tons. We are losing more than 1 lakh crore foodgrains every year through pilferage, theft, infestation, manipulations and so many other frauds which is taxpayers’ money.

He said these laws would have made all 6,70,000 villages in the country investment destinations as every village would have some of the other products which would require storage facility, a small grading, packing station, or processing station.. now the entire process has been derailed. No investment will come.

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