Amidst the ongoing agitation by political parties and farmer organisations, the Union Minister of Railways and Commerce Piyush Goyal, on Saturday, strongly defended the three recently passed agriculture laws, terming them ‘game changing decisions’ that will improve the lives of farmers and double their income. The minister said that empowering farmers has been the priority of the government.
At a press conference, as a part of Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) outreach initiative to counter opposition parties, Goyal said these laws have freed farmers from the decades old bondage regarding the sale of their produce and paved the way for fast growth of the agricultural sector.
Goyal asserted that the new agriculture laws provide contractual protection to farmers against adverse price variations, while also giving them the freedom to avail the benefit of favourable market prices. “Farmers have now been empowered with the freedom to sell their produce to the right person, at the right place, at the right time, and at the right price,” he noted.
Goyal countered the claims by political parties and farmer organisations over the central government’s silence on the minimum support price (MSP). “MSP was there yesterday, is there today, and will be there tomorrow,” he said, adding that the government has fixed MSP at 1.5 times the production cost. Moreover, it has been extended to many more items.
“MSP rate and procurement too have gone up in recent times, even during periods of low inflation,” he added. Allaying fears about contract farming, the minister said it is only an option and not compulsory. He reiterated that the new law provides for payments to the farmers to be made within three days and an institutional mechanism has been devised for redressing grievances, if any.
Further, Goyal said the Kisan Rail services have received a very good response and the Railways and the Ministry of Agriculture are working to institutionalise the Kisan Rail corridors to make them season specific to fruits and vegetables. “We are also in discussion with the Ministry of Agriculture to start refrigerated coaches for the transport of perishable commodities. Warehouses are being planned to be developed to permanently solve the problem of wastage of farm produce,” he added.
The first Kisan Rail was flagged off from Deolali in Maharashtra to Bihar. There is a proposal now to start a Kisan Rail service from Nagpur to transport oranges to different parts of the country as the orange season sets in.