Crop of ironies -Madhurika Sankar
Food security and farmer welfare are intertwined
It is ironic that it took a devastating pandemic to force the government’s hand for long-overdue agrarian reforms. Amendments have been made to the Essential Commodities Act, 1955. The Finance Minister has urged States to dismantle the Agricultural Produce Market Committees. Several long-term changes have been made to the agricultural sector, such as fair pricing and e-trading, along with liquidity measures. The Centre has also encouraged the State governments to adopt three model laws on contract farming, agricultural land leasing, and marketing.
These developments came as the Indian agriculture sector was impacted by lockdowns across States following the COVID-19 outbreak. Migrant farm workers fled the fields en masse, unable to sustain their livelihoods. Crippling bottlenecks in the supply chain resulted in prices sky-rocketing in consumer markets, even as farmers, stuck with inventory, started dumping them at throwaway prices. Many remained hungry even as the Food Corporation of India’s godowns overflowed with grain stock at three times the buffer stock norms.
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The Hindu, 24 June, 2020, https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/crop-of-ironies/article31900748.ece