Editorial

Jio In Agri Sector And The Farmers Protest…..

Ambani and Adani have lately been eyeing India’s farm sector. In 2017, Ambani shared his ambitions to invest in the agriculture sector. At present, his Jio platforms is banking on a partnership with Facebook to expand into the agritech domain with the JioKrishi app, which will facilitate a farm-to-fork supply chain. The company is said to have sourced 77% of its fruit directly from farmers. The protesting farmers believe that the new laws have been drafted to facilitate ease of doing business for such large corporations, eliminating safeguards for farmers and leaving them vulnerable. Political voices have also grown against the farm laws, alleging that they will benefit Adani and Ambani and not the farmers. The new laws allow market forces to venture freely into the farm sector in India, which is heavily regulated by the government. Currently, farmers take their produce to wholesale markets or mandis governed by the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC). The APMC in every state decides the prices it will pay the producers, and then sells them further. These markets also became nodal points for government procurement of foodgrains. One of the new laws aims to abort this entire network. Under the new rule, a trader can approach any farmer across the country and buy their produce, at whatever price they agree upon. Arguing that the farm laws will lead to economic prosperity, the government has said that the participation of private players will put the farmers directly in touch with them, and they can potentially negotiate higher rates and control the narrative. Farmers do not agree. On the contrary, they believe that the new process will lower the impact of minimum support price, which the government offers as a safe haven to farmers if there’s a sharp price fall during a particular season. Another bone of contention is that the new lawsdo not make written contracts mandatory. So if there is a conflict, it’ll get difficult for a small farmer to prove that the agreement has been breached. Another devil that lies in the details of the farm laws is the provision that in case of any dispute, farmers cannot take their cases to a regular court. Instead, they can seek out a  conciliation board, a district-level administrative officers or an appellate authority. Farmers argue that these local authorities are part of the government system and aren’t independent like the judiciary. Therefore, they fear that these authorities would tilt in favour of the corporations.

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